“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger” (Jn 6:35)
Even though this verse from today’s Gospel is referring to spiritual food and hunger, is it true? For those of us who have come to Christ, do we never spiritually hunger?
Well, His Grace in our hearts and souls really does satisfy and fulfill us. But we do speak of and experience a hungering for Christ. Many of us who have had the amazing privilege of attending daily Mass for years have experienced a hunger for the Eucharist if we go anytime without it.
So, how can we understand Jn 6:35? An article below from www.catholic-daily-reflections.com offers a really good explanation of how we can be satisfied by Christ and yet still hunger for Him. The basic point is that His Grace satisfies and satiates us, but we have to be continually nourished by Him.
A new message on our sign has the quote from St. Therese: “Receive Communion often, very often”. Daily Mass!
Wouldn’t it be nice if you were never hungry or thirsty again? What’s fascinating is that Jesus uses these very natural human experiences to teach us about Himself. He uses natural hunger and thirst to teach us that we long to be satisfied spiritually. And there is only one way to satiate these spiritual longings…through Him.
It is a good spiritual practice to reflect upon your natural longings as an analogy for your spiritual longings. Naturally speaking, we regularly get hungry and thirsty. We eat and drink, but several hours later we hunger and thirst again. This is a cycle we cannot avoid. Our body continually craves food and drink.
The same is true on a spiritual level. We cannot pray once and satisfy our spiritual longings forever. We cannot simply believe in Jesus and then be satisfied forever. Why? Because prayer and unity with Jesus is something that must take place daily throughout your day.
The Eucharist offers insights into this hunger and thirst in that it provides us with our “daily” food. It is a gift that we must daily seek. Some of the Sacraments are given to us only once (Baptism and Confirmation). But the Eucharist is a gift that we must continually consume and long for. The fact that we must continually go to Mass and receive the Eucharist tells us that our Christian life is not something that can be fulfilled by one definitive decision. Rather, it’s something that needs daily nourishment and fulfillment.
What do you do to satisfy this Christian longing each and every day? Perhaps you cannot attend Mass every day, but do you seek to fulfill your Christian desire for Christ each and every day? Do you seek Him who is the Bread of Life every day? Do you seek to satiate your thirst with Christ each and every day?
Loving Jesus and following Him is a decision that must be renewed not only each day, it must also be renewed throughout your day. It must be renewed as often as you become physically hungry and thirsty.
Reflect, today, upon these natural longings you have for food and drink to continually remind yourself of your much deeper spiritual longing for Christ. Praying to Him, listening to Him and receiving Him into your soul is the food that satisfies like nothing else. Jesus is the true Bread of Life and your true Spiritual Drink. He is what you are made for. Let Him satisfy your deepest desires in life!
Also, this excerpt from an article at www.osv.com offers more insight to John 6, specifically about those who were fed through the multiplication of the loaves:
The experience of being satisfied with food after a long day clearly made a deep impression. No doubt some of these people were poor and rarely had enough to eat. Others were dreaming of a world in which the Jewish people would once more be fed directly by the hand of God, as they were in the wilderness under Moses (cf., Jn 6:31). For them, the multiplication of the loaves did not merely
point toward the relief of physical hunger but also toward political liberation from the power of Rome. The manna of Exodus had freed the Jewish people to escape the flesh-pots of Egypt. Thus, bread represented both nourishment and freedom.
When Christ answers them, he tries to guide their thinking away from short-term physical and political hopes. “Do not work for food that perishes,” he tells them, “but for the food that endures for eternal life” (Jn 6:27). Later, he clarifies: “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” (Jn 6:51).
May you know the peace of Christ,