18th Ordinary Sunday (B)                                               John 6:24-35


I can’t imagine what life was like for the people of Jesus’ time. Heck, I can hardly believe how ideology and technology has changed life in the eighty years I have lived. People change, cultures change and humanity continues, whether they realize it or not, to proceed to salvation or damnation. Life for the ancient people was much harder and very basic compared to our lives today. There was no faucet where they could get water any time; there was no supermarket or even a convenience store to drop in and get a snack. Their primary concern was: could they have enough money to get to eat that day and how they would keep themselves supported to see the days ahead.

Today we continue the story of the people that Jesus just fed with all the bread and fish they could eat— for free. This combined with his ability to cure the sick motivated them to pursue him and found him in Capernaum, hoping for more free food. This was Jesus’ intention in the feeding of the five thousand, not only his compassion for them, as they appeared as sheep without a shepherd, but also to lead these souls to the importance of the spiritual life over the material. As he says, “I am the bread of life; whoever believes in me will never hunger…”

He openly accuses them of just looking for more food even though they call him Rabbi and compare him to Moses, the prophet from God. Our Lord points out that their attitudes are in error. Their thoughts were still stuck on the material things of life. Some wanted him to throw out the Romans and restore the great kingdom of Israel. While the others just wanted all the material benefits he could provide: free food, curing the sick, letting the blind see, casting out demons, and raising the dead; that’s quite a list for a potential king.

Most of the Jews of that time did not contemplate things spiritual and the concept of everlasting life and eternal joy was completely new to them. This is the Good News that Jesus was trying to get across to them. He indicates, that the Good News is a reward, a reward that lies beyond grave and how much more important that is to their future. Don’t look for earthly bread, which you eat and die, but the bread that will bring you eternal life. Jesus was saying I can give you this bread, you are correct, I am the Messiah, I can give you this bread of eternal life, if you will only believe in me and know that I come from the Father, your God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jesus is trying to get them to make an act of faith in him as he is about to openly reveal the mystery of the Blessed Eucharist to them — that he is the bread that comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world.    

Acceptance of Jesus as the Christ who comes from God was their first step to understanding and accepting the truth of eternal life. But many will persist in their lack of interest in their future life and their lack of faith in Jesus as the Messiah.

Thanks be to Christ, we have full knowledge of these things today. We have received the good news; we believe life is a period of preparation, a few precious years in which we can come to know and believe in God’s Son who came to save us and bring us to his eternal joy in heaven. But how many, even today, seek Jesus for no other purpose than that he may grant their desires in this present life?

Do we appreciate our good fortune; do we live up to the teachings, which we know in our hearts are true? Do we ever allow ourselves to get so immersed in worldly things that we forget that this earth is passing away; that we are only pilgrims on a sacred journey? Many of us get trapped into this way. We must recall, daily, that we are “Followers of Christ” and do what he has called us to do.

Our eternity, the unending life after death will depend on how we have spent these fleeting years on earth. But don’t panic, God is a loving, forgiving, merciful God, and he gives us a sacrament that allows us to reconcile ourselves to him.

Ext meeting © JOSEPH MEILINGER 2021