Sunday 12 august 2018, 19th Sunday in Ordinary time YEAR B
From Physical Bread to the Word of God
In the Old Testament, God nourishes his people in the desert. He also intervenes to nourish his prophet and to give him strength for the journey he has to make. Elijah’s life vividly reveals a caring God, a God who feeds his people. When Elijah was to travel long distances at the time of famine God sent ravens to feed him and he drank from the brook.
This special attention of God for the hunger of men foreshadowed the bread of life which was to fill their hunger of living eternally. The true bread descended from heaven for this purpose is Jesus himself, sent by the Father to give eternal life to those who eat it. It is communion with and to life of God. As Christians, and more so, Catholics, we have the privilege of partaking in the Most Holy Eucharist on a daily basis. This daily participation of the bread of life prepares us for the heavenly banquet.
The language of the gospel is very graphic. Jesus speaks of himself as the bread that comes down from heaven and calls on us to eat this bread. When we hear that kind of language we probably think instinctively of the Eucharist. Yet, it might be better not to jump to the Eucharist too quickly. The Lord invites us come to him and to feed on his presence, and in particular to feed on his word.
In the Jewish Scriptures bread is often a symbol of the word of God. We may be familiar with the quotation from the Jewish Scriptures, ‘we do not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ We need physical bread, but we also need the spiritual bread of God’s word. We come to Jesus to be nourished by his word. The Father draws us to his Son to be fed by his word. The food of his word will sustain us on our journey through life. When we keep coming to Jesus and feeding on his word, that word will shape our lives.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus is talking about our becoming more alive, more humanly alive. He sees it happening by our coming to him, our believing him. Faith as we are told comes by hearing. Today he used the metaphor of himself as bread – as the bread come down from heaven, as the bread of life, as the bread that ensures our living, beyond death, forever. Coming to Jesus and hearing his word incites believe in our hearts. In effect we must move from eating physical bread to eating the Word of God. Jesus himself said: Man does not live by bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God (cf. Mathew 4:4)
Fr. Jude Thaddeus Langeh, cmf
Please pray for me