Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

A Deeper Hunger (John 6:24-35) | St John's Lutheran Church, Tea Tree Gully

Exodus 16:2-4, 9-15 and Psalm 78:23-29  • 

Ephesians 4:1-16  • 

John 6:24-35

In today’s first reading, the Israelites were handed a treasure: in their hunger, God fed them with manna, bread from Heaven, food to sustain them on their journey to the Promised Land.   But it was a treasure they didn’t recognise or understand – Moses had to explain it to them. Their even greater treasure – freedom from Egyptian slavery – wasn’t appreciated either as they began to moan about the days when they had food aplenty to eat. At that stage, they would have exchanged their freedom for a loaf of bread!

The crowds who followed Jesus didn’t recognise the treasure they had found either: they followed Him only because He filled their stomachs, satisfying their physical hunger without regard for their spiritual hunger. He tried to explain that there was more on offer – a food giving eternal life, bread which would never go stale or mouldy, the bread of life, bread for life! The only response required was belief.

Jesus still invites us to recognise the treasure which God still offers, but which we so often fail to appreciate.  We all tend to look at our personal lives and grumble and moan – we’re sick … not enough money coming in to pay all the bills … the children are getting under our skin. And God’s only response is to say that He loves us!

Jesus makes the same appeal to us as He did to the crowds who followed Him in His own time: “believe in Me.” In order to do that, we’ve got to  look  a  little harder, dig a little deeper, because faith involves com mitment. For John, belief in Jesus means being committed to His way of love – “Love one another as I have loved you.” St. Paul says the same when he writes about “the way you have learned from Christ.” It’s only through being committed to Christ that we’ll be truly satisfied: “He who comes to Me will never hunger, he who believes in Me will never thirst!” That’s the treasure Jesus sets before us today. So let’s try and get our priorities right. Yes, of course houses, food, money, clothing, jobs – they’re all very important, of course they are. We live in a disposable, throwaway materialistic society where nothing lasts aand everything’s disposable – kitchens, houses, cars, even relationships. So it’s difficult to keep focussed. Even more important then, to work for the bread which lasts forever, the bread of life, the bread which will gain us entry to our heavenly homeland.

Gathered at Mass today, we come to be nourished both by God’s word and the Bread of Life to sustain us. The spoken word opens up God’s teaching in the Scriptures for us; the bread offered is broken for us to share. We need Jesus, the Bread of Life. And if we truly believe in Him, we’ll make decisions which will carrry us beyond next week, beyond death, all the way to eternal life.

Writing to the Phillipians, St. Paul says, “For us, our homeland is in Heaven, and from Heaven comes the Saviour we are waiting for, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who will transfigure these wretched bodies into copies of His own glorious body … So then, my brothers and dear friends, do not give way, but remain faithful in the Lord.”

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