18th Sunday: Bread from Heaven (John 6:24-35)
In today’s first reading, we heard that the Israelites grumbled against Moses, and they grumbled about everything. They grumbled about their food, about their leader, about their enemies, even about their God. But God was a patient listener and a generous provider. In the end, God gave them manna and quail for their stomachs and the Promised Land for their descendants. The lesson is clear. God’s people grumble. And God hears these grumbles with compassion and responds to them in love.
Jesus’ disciples also frequently grumbled. They grumbled when they did not understand His parables and miracles. They grumbled when Jesus told them Jesus had to suffer and die. They grumbled because they wanted more miracles, and more power. But Jesus patiently heard them and responded to these grumbles with love.
Let me share with you a small story: A lady went to her pastor and said, “I am going to leave from your church.” The pastor asked her, “What happened?” The lady said, “I heard some women were gossiping about another member, a few men were hypocrites, some people were looking at their phone during the service, and so many other things are wrong in your church.” The pastor replied, “Before you go, do me a favor: Take a full glass of water and walk around the church without spilling a drop of water on the ground. Afterwards, if you want, you can leave the church.” The lady thought it would be easy! She walked around the church as the pastor had asked. When she finished, she told the pastor she was ready to leave. The pastor said, “Before you leave, I want to ask you one more question. When you were walking around the church, did you hear anyone gossiping? Did you see any hypocrites? Was anyone looking at their phone? The lady replied, “No!” The pastor said, “Because you were focusing on the glass and on your walking, and you did not want to stumble and spill any water. It is the same with our lives. When we keep our eyes on Jesus and walk with Jesus, we do not have time to see the mistakes of others. The other thing we can notice is that the church is filled with all kinds of people and people are not perfect. So, we don’t want to grumble or criticize anyone without much reason.”
That is why Pope Francis said, “The Church should be like a field of a hospital that cleans and heals the wounds of the people.” We are broken people, we all have our own wounds, and we have to support each other and encourage each other instead of grumbling or criticizing each other. God understands our human nature and our imperfections. We bring our share of grumbles, our complaints, regrets, hurts, and frustrations. We grumble… for everything. But Jesus understands our humanness and Jesus listens patiently; with divine assurance, Jesus offers us: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” Jesus offered the crowd bread that will nourish them for eternal life.
What must we do to get the bread of life? The answer is simple and straightforward: We must believe in Jesus! To believe in Jesus is to commit ourselves totally and unconditionally to Jesus’ way of life. It is only through our acts of faith, trust, and letting go. Let us nourish our souls with this heavenly manna and carry Jesus to our homes and workplaces, radiating Jesus’ love, mercy, and compassion are all around us. Let us become the bread and ready to break it and share it with others to experience joy and peace of heart. Let us sacrifice for one another and become Eucharist for our brothers and sisters!