From Rumbling Tummies to Living Bread
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Today’s texts move us from rumbling tummies and flaring tempers to a refocusing on the blessings poured out and the primary benefactor. We see the gifts of God, which come in a variety of ways: physical nourishment, roles and talents lifted up in community, new life given now and into the ages of ages. We find that the gifts are responses to various actions—complaining, building for the future, longing for signs of promise and hope. Yet each of these actions and the gifts mean little if we are not able to see the one who is the giver and to recognize that the gifts are not merely about what we can do to get them or what signs are needed to prove them; rather, it is about trust in God, who is the source of life and living—the one who provides the true bread from heaven. Our role in this story is to tell the history of God’s giving, similar to the psalmist. It is to open our eyes to the way the bread of heaven is sustaining us today, physically and spiritually. And as a community living in God’s promise, we look to the one God sends to us as the bread of life. In many early Hebrew and Greek writings, the stomach was a driving force and a place where hope and faith were lodged. The readings point us to see how a longing for food opens a greater dwelling place for the gifts of faith and promise. From our physical depths we are called to experience a greater spiritual reality.
Gospel: John 6:24-35
Many of the five thousand people Jesus fed in the wilderness continued to follow him throughout the countryside. Jesus challenges them to consider the real nature of their quest.
24When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were [beside the sea,] they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.
25When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” 28Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” 29Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? 31Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ ” 32Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
35Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”