Living the Word: The 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Savoring the Bread of Life
Reflection for the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)
August 2, 2015
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”—John 6:35
How many times during the day do you use or hear the word “want”? What do you want to be when you grow up? What do you want for dinner? I want to watch something else. Where do you want to be in 25 years?
We live in a culture that is guided by wants. And our desire for more is fed by advertising campaigns and a drive for getting what’s new and novel.
In the Gospel we hear on this Sunday, we get a sense that this was also the perspective of crowds that had gathered around Jesus after he had fed a great number with only a few loaves and fish: “Jesus answered them and said, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled.’” Jesus had satisfied their physical hunger and they wanted more.
Like so many in our world today, that crowd was really only looking for something perishable—for temporary satisfaction to an immediate want. But in order for us to be truly fulfilled, we have to recognize and honor those hungers, hopes, and needs that are deep within us, especially the desires to be known and loved. These are the hungers and needs that Jesus addresses in this Gospel passage when he says to the crowds, “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” No amount of money, power, sex, or possessions can ever bring true satisfaction and fulfillment. However much we might have in life, those fundamental desires that are deep within us will never be satisfied.
In the end, only God can truly provide the nourishment and fulfillment that will bring us lasting peace and joy. We have been given the great gifts of the Scriptures and the Eucharist—the Bread of Life—to nourish and strengthen us as we journey through life.
To receive the Eucharist, is not to receiving something but to encounter Someone, because in the Eucharist we enter into a communion with Jesus himself. It is in this communion that the deepest desires and longings of our hearts find lasting fulfillment.
Have you shared your deepest hungers and hopes with God? How has God provided for you in the past? What does the “Bread of Life” mean for you today?
Words of Wisdom: “Every Eucharist is a personal encounter with Christ. Listening to God’s word, our hearts burn because it is he who is explaining and proclaiming it. When we break the bread at the Eucharist, it is he whom we receive personally.”—Pope Benedict XVI
Silas Henderson is a catechist, retreat director, and writer whose reflections and articles have appeared in numerous Catholic publications. He is also the author of From Season to Season: A Book of Saintly Wisdom and Moving Beyond Doubt, as well as the upcoming books Lights for a Waiting World: Celebrating Advent with the Saints (Abbey Press) and With An Undivided Heart: A Life of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga (Ignatius Press). He currently serves as the managing editor of Abbey Press Publications and Deacon Digest Magazine. You can find him at www.fromseason2season.blogspot.com and www.facebook.com/SilasSHenderson.