Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Book of Exodus 16:2-4, 12-15 Psalm 78 Ephesians 4:17, 20-24 John 6:24-35
Last Sunday’s Gospel narrative describes Jesus feeding a great multitude of people with five loaves of bread and two fish. Those present were so impressed by this miracle that they wanted to proclaim Him king. The people were hungry, and He fed them. An extraordinary gesture on our Lord’s part, but that’s not what His ministry was all about. It’s not why God the Father sent Him into this world. His mission, of course, was to change hearts, a task that threatened the power and position of the religious leaders of His day. Jesus traveled to Capernaum, and the crowd of people caught up with Him, which is where today’s Gospel begins.
The people begin the conversation by asking how and when Jesus arrived in Capernaum, and immediately our Lord takes the discussion to a deeper level. He knew that they were looking for Him. They received a free meal, but they didn’t recognize that what Jesus had done was a “sign“ with a message for them.
Jesus indeed fed the multitude through a miraculous sign meant to tell them something. He told them, “Do not labor for food that perishes.“ Although, we do have to labor for our food. We might recall that God told Adam after he ate the forbidden fruit that he would have to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow. (Gen. 3:19) Our Lord wanted the people to know there are things more important than having something to eat when we are hungry. A person without spiritual insight might ask, “What things? “ Jesus’ answer is that it is good that He is willing to offer us food that will satisfy us and bring us eternal life.
Friends, today’s Gospel message is essential. We should reflect on two keywords, in addition to the “signs.“ They are “work“ and “believe.“ Why? Because the people ask, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?“ Jesus responds to them, saying, “Believe in the One He sent.“
Our Lord Jesus blesses us with His promise to the crowd who followed Him, as well as all of us who follow Him today, as He said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.“
Question of the Day: How will you convince others to return to the Holy Eucharist, the true bread from heaven?
Prayer: “The Lord gave them bread from heaven.“ (Psalm 78)