August 5, 2018
Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
EX 16:2-4, 12-15 PS 78:3-4, 23-24, 25, 54 EPH 4:17, 20-24 JN 6:24-35
Jesus tells the crowd who followed Him, “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life…”, thus beginning the “Bread of Life discourse” in St. John’s gospel.
What is “food that perishes”? It’s more than just the calories we consume day in and day out. It’s not merely the food we toss in the grocery cart, or shove in our faces while watching TV. It’s also the work we do; the books we read; the decisions we make; the relationships we form and break; the words we say or fail to say. “Food that perishes” are the things that ultimately pass away, reduced to fading memory upon our death, or perhaps etched in history for future generations. Such things affect how we will be judged by Christ, but what it comes down to is this: Did we work for food that endures for eternal life more than the food that perishes? Was Jesus central to our lives? Was He paramount in all that we did and said? Did we obey His commandment of love? Was our faith wholly committed to Him, or did we hold anything back?
Our world doesn’t see things this way. The world wants us to believe that power, fame, prestige, and possessions are all that matters. “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we may die” – if “Food That Perishes” were a movie, that would be its subtitle. Like the rich man who decided to tear down his barns to erect even larger ones, selfishness and pride blind us to what’s truly important.
This isn’t to say food that sustains us is unimportant – and Christ didn’t say that either. After all, he had just fed the crowd with a few loaves and a couple fishes prior to this exchange in the Gospel. Simply put, such food isn’t what’s most important. Christ is the priority, and the food He provides – physically and spiritually – is what we need most of all. It’s necessary for salvation. Just as God preserved the Israelites in the desert with quail and manna until they reached the Promised Land, so too will Christ preserve us with His Body and Blood until we reach heaven.
Food that perishes is powerless to save us. Food that endures for eternal life is first and foremost what we need. If it weren’t, Jesus would have never offered it to us.
Photo on Visual Hunt