18 Sunday of ordinary time B
August 1, 2021
John 6: 24-35
By Rev. John Tran
Last Sunday we came away with the question: what did we and the crowd come away with after Jesus fed the 5,000? Today, Jesus answers the question for us. The crowd came to find Jesus and his disciples after they had gone home. Jesus said to the crowd: “I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes, but for food that endures for eternal life...” Jesus is well aware that the crowd was interested in free food and security and did not understand the signs from the cures and the multiplication of the loaves. They, and perhaps even we, see the individual actions, but do not see the person, Jesus. That is the real insight: it is not the miracles that count, it is who Jesus is that counts.
We, with the crowd, ask Jesus what we have to do to accomplish the works of God? The point is that doing the works of God do not begin with any works that we do; no, it begins with believing in the one whom God has sent, Jesus Christ. Jesus goes on to tell them that, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believe in me will never thirst.” This is where we stop for this week.
Where are we? We are at the point where we have to decide where our focus is. Is it in being assured that we will always be cured and fed; or, is it that we have to come to terms with just who Jesus is. So, that is our question for this week: Who is Jesus? Is he the one sent from the Father? Is he the one in whom we must believe in order to live? It is a hard thing to realize that the first thing to salvation, is not what we can accomplish, but rather where our belief, our faith, is. It is not material things that are the bread of life, it is Jesus himself who is the bread of life. We cannot work our way to salvation; we believe our way.
Now, this does not mean that it does not matter how we act or what we do. Rather, it means that first we have faith in Jesus and recognize that he is our salvation and is a gift from the Father. Only then can what we do have real meaning; only then can we figure out what to do and how to act. If we are not firm in our belief, what follows in chapter six will be beyond our understanding.
Today’s readings challenge us to trust in the providence of a loving and caring God and to hunger and thirst for the Bread of eternal life. As human beings, we hunger for many things besides food and material possessions. We hunger to be recognized and honored, to love and be loved, to be listened to and to be appreciated, to help, to console, to encourage people, and to receive gratitude. But only God can satisfy our various forms of spiritual hunger. St. Augustine said: “O God, You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You” Only faith and love in the person of Jesus will ever be enough for us.