Updated 31st July 2021
We all know how important food is. Food gives us life. When we’re physically hungry it’s good to feel the satisfaction that food gives us. It gives us pleasure, it strengthens us and importantly keeps us alive.
Sadly there are many in the world who don’t have the same access to food as we do. Whilst we can’t help the fact that we live in a different place, we of course must never lose sight of the worlds suffering and do what we can to make things better.
In our society and in the world at large, we mostly have to work for our bread and butter. And that can be hard, whatever job we do. ‘The job pays the bills and puts food on the table’, I’ve often heard people say. We all know though that a meal doesn’t last, however big it might be. It makes us full and sustains us for a while until we are hungry again. Sometimes of course we might eat too much which is not hard in the temptations of our own society. Less easy in some countries! Countering this is the monastic way of life, where monks and nuns eat just enough and not beyond feeling full. Once your full it’s time to stop they would say.
But yes, we need physical food, for our physical bodies and the history of the world shows that people have had to work for it. Food feeds our physical hunger.
However, as human beings we also have other hungers, both good and bad and some hungers we satisfy are best not satisfied. And just like the food we eat, once our craving has been satisfied, it fades and we eventually want more.
One craving we all have the potential to have is spiritual hunger. Indeed, however conscious we are it is a need for all human beings. To be satisfied spiritually is a satisfaction above all other satisfactions, even if we don’t realize it. But often we do. The food of the world which is more than just the food we eat, might seem to feed everything we need; a house, a nice garden, a car; enjoyment, leisure, interest; feeling good when our team has won, whether it’s football or rugby, the Olympics or whatever and it’s good to see Team GB doing well! These by and large are good things, even necessary things to sustain human beings. But all wear off and wear out. When your teams won you hold on to it, you celebrate and enjoy it for a while, because the enjoyment doesn’t last and the next game comes along with no guarantees. And the nice car eventually goes to the scrap-yard.
But there is a food that does last. And that is spiritual food. ‘What is this spiritual food?’ we might ask. How do we injest it? Well we injest spiritual food by allowing Jesus into our lives, the one whom God the Father sent into the world to satisfy our hunger. We are all hungry. Just as our empty stomachs need food, so our empty selves need food. All the good and not so good things in the world are not enough because we have a greater need. The need for Jesus who is the bread of life.
We hear in our gospel from John, Jesus say to the people who have just been physically fed in the feeding of the five thousand.
‘Do not work for food that perishes, but for food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you’.
we have to work to satisfy our spiritual hunger, as we have to work
to satisfy our physical hunger? Well of course we do. God sent his Son
into the world, to satisfy our needs and this was done at great cost
by Jesus’ crucifixion on the Cross. Jesus was broken for me, broken
for you as we remember when we feed on Jesus in the miracle and mystery
of the Holy Eucharist. But we have to work at our devotional life, just
as we work for our physical life. God’s love is generous, but
to really know God’s generous love we need to do the work of God
as we hear Jesus say and the work of God is to believe in him whom he
sent. Jesus! To believe in Jesus means we become workers for his kingdom,
making visible and present the things of heaven in this world, that
which we so hunger for! The manna in the desert that God sent to the
Israelites in their time of Exodus and the feeding of the five thousand
through Jesus are all pointers to what God has to offer us. And that
is the spiritual food that is Jesus who satisfies all our hungers.
So let us respond to the one who feeds us. St Paul in our reading from Ephesians begs the Christian community to whom he is writing, to as we hear, ‘lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.’ That’s Kingdom building for sure! And to do this we need to come before the one who comes to us and feeds our hungry souls.
For Jesus is the bread of life and we must really go to him in our hearts as we go to the altar. For whoever goes to Jesus will never be hungry and whoever believes in him will never be thirsty.’
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