No one feels more for us in our needs than the one who lays down his life for us. Those who, seeing signs, go to him and believe in him will never hunger.
The crowd finally finds the one they are seeking. But he does not seem to be as welcoming as when he fed them. He even dismisses their question. He gives them instead an answer that sounds like a scolding, “You are looking for me not because you saw signs.”
Jesus challenges, yes, those who had their fill of bread not to stop at that. Stopping there, they will probably get fed up with it and wander aimlessly again like sheep without a shepherd. So, the Shepherd does not want them working for perishable food, but for food that endures for eternal life. In that way, we get to know, moreover, that his miracles are signs of a deeper reality.
That is to say, the picnic bread points to Jesus. Revealing himself, he says, “I am the bread of life.” And one can associate this revelation to that of the one whose name is “I am who am.” God reveals himself precisely to assure the poor that he hears their cry and knows well their suffering. For his part, the one who is the bread of life does not only feed us. He also answers our deeper needs, the signs of which are our material needs.
Those who are hungry for bread are signs of those who hunger for righteousness.
It is not that material bread is not important. We need it to live. And Jesus clearly teaches by word and deed that we have to feed the hungry. Those who do so will surely inherit the kingdom of God.
Jesus, however, also confirms that we do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God. And Jesus embodies God’s word. Unless we eat him, we will remain hungry and restless. To feed ourselves with him is what our being Christian truly means. Rightly, then, do we have this reminder (SV.EN I:276):
We live in Jesus Christ through the death of Jesus Christ, and we must die in Jesus Christ through the life of Jesus Christ, and our life must be hidden in Jesus Christ and filled with Jesus Christ, and in order to die as Jesus Christ, we must live as Jesus Christ.
Lord Jesus, give your Spirit to us who ask, “What is this?” and renew us and make us understand your signs. In that way, we will know that the only way to satisfy human hunger is for one to give one’s body up and shed one’s blood for the hungry.
5 August 2018
18th Sunday in O.T. (B)
Exodus 16, 2-4. 12-15; Ephesians 4, 17. 20-24; John 6, 24-35