“I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”
The past few Sundays, we’ve been experiencing Gospel readings that keep pointing to the theme that Jesus came to protect, nourish, and feed us. Hearing the same basic message several weeks in a row, one might be tempted to say “OK, we get it!”. After reading this week’s Gospel, we also asked ourselves, “Why does Jesus keep telling His children the same thing over and over?” “I am the bread of Heaven, I am the bread of life, if you believe in me you shall live…”
And then we thought about our own three children. Oh yeah, SMH. Like many somewhat decent parents, we manage to feed, clothe, and provide them with everything they could possibly need to survive and grow. It is completely unnecessary for them to question this certainty, because we’ve made it very apparent that we will provide what they need, and more if possible. And yet, they’re constantly questioning or doubting our ability to provide for and guide them. “Can I have that?” “Where are we going?” “What are we doing next?” “Are we there yet?” And every. single. waking. minute. someone is HUNGRY and usually begging for fruits snacks and goldfish crackers. (Disclaimer: We don’t recommend simultaneous consumption of both.)
Despite our superior parenting skills, our children still question the provision of their needs, and there is no other choice than to patiently and repeatedly remind them that everything will be okay. Is it possible then, that through His only Son Jesus, God the Father is patiently and repeatedly reminding us, like a parent to a child, that He’s got this? Not only that, but He goes well beyond our physical needs and provides much deeper fulfillment. He promises more than just what this life on earth has to offer, and that if we truly believe in Him, we will not want for anything!
When we doubt Jesus’ ability to provide for us and seek fulfillment for our emotional and spiritual hunger in things other than Him, this is where we start to get ourselves in trouble. This is where we become like the ancestors that “ate the manna in the desert, but died”. Yikes. They died because what they were consuming couldn’t actually bring them eternal life. Jesus says this over and over again because it is SO important.
Just as those who ate manna in the desert, we try to find satisfaction in unhealthy relationships we can’t let go of because we think they are the only way we’ll feel accepted and loved. We eat the bread of sacrificing time with God and our families to achieve academic and career goals. We drink the cup of substances we abuse or habits we form to avoid thinking about our seemingly insurmountable problems. None of these things bring lasting fulfillment. It is only this Man, Jesus, sent from Heaven to be our living bread, nourishment, and life for our eternal souls, that will satisfy our hunger. When we follow Him, believe in Him, and trust Him, light is cast upon those things we thought we needed or had to have, and we realize they will never actually fulfill us.
Like a parent desires the best for their child, Jesus wants us to be full. He wants us to thrive. He wants us to be with Him forever because He loves us. In trusting and believing, we allow Jesus to provide what we truly need and lead us to eternal life and fulfillment with Him in Heaven.
“Are we there yet?”