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Friday, 30 July 2021 18:20

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year B - 2021

Written by Fr Elmer Ibarra SVD

Fr Elmer Ibarra 150 Best

Maybe once in a while we have met some people who seemed to have everything in life; a good house, a flash car, a high-paying job, manage to travel around the world at a moment’s notice but somehow there’s something that is missing. He or she realises that there’s a feeling of emptiness and is looking for something more. Sounds familiar? These days, it is not so hard to find some people who are like that. 

The gospel for today is the second in the series of what bible scholars call the “Bread of Life discourse”. Last week we witnessed how Jesus fed an enormous number of people maybe by teaching them how to share so that everybody could have more than enough. Seeing the potential that Jesus could galvanise a huge number of people by feeding them, these people wanted to take away Jesus and make him king. However, Jesus walked away as he wanted to say clearly that it was not his intention to become a political saviour even though a lot of people were hoping that he would consider doing that and kick the Romans out of Israel. 

In the gospel this week though, Jesus is teaching the people to look not just for food that will perish but food that will last forever. However, what Jesus’ listeners were thinking about is how to get a food that they don’t need to plant barley or wheat; they don’t have to harvest the grain; they don’t have to grind and make it into flour; they don’t have to bake and make it into bread. What they were expecting was food that would just fall out of the sky and they don’t need to work for it. If we have read or have listened at the first reading, it has happened before. When the Hebrews escaped Egypt and they were in the desert on their way to the Promised Land, they became hungry and complained to Moses and Aaron. After the Lord heard their complaints, the Lord sent them manna from heaven and quail in the evening for their meat. So the people were expecting that the same thing would happen at their time. However, they’re not aware that Jesus is thinking of something else. 

What Jesus is offering is not physical food but himself as the “Bread of Life”. And what is good about this is that we don’t have to work for it; for it comes to us as a gift. The only thing we have to do is to come to him. 

During the time of Christ, this teaching was so difficult to comprehend. What the listeners of Jesus understand is bread that you eat and bread that could sustain you through life. However, what Jesus is offering is food that is not for stomach but food for our soul. This teaching of Jesus tells us that while making sure that our physical needs are met, Jesus wants us to realise that our soul needs its spiritual food, and that is what Jesus wanted to offer to us. 

What is good about what Jesus is offering is that it is a gift. Whenever we go to Mass, one of its highlights is our consumption of the body and blood of Christ during communion. Perhaps this has never seemed more precious to us than now when some of us are experiencing COVID lockdowns and can't go to  Mass. We know that what we receive at Mass is not a symbol of the body and blood of Christ but it is actually Jesus Christ himself body, blood, soul and divinity. Obviously, our stomachs could not be filled with a small piece of wafer and sip of wine but we must understand that this small piece of wafer and the sip of wine are not just the body and blood of Christ, it provides nourishment for our souls. 

That is why whenever we go to Mass, we must take full advantage of what is being offered to us, let us be fed by the body and blood of Christ.  And in order to be fed by the body and blood of Christ, we must go to Church at least weekly.

Jesus is offering us a tremendous of gift of himself as nourishment for our souls. Let us receive this free gift as often as we can and we must remember that inasmuch as we need to eat to survive, our souls also need its spiritual nourishment in the form of the body and blood of Christ in order to be healthy and survive too. 

Last modified on Saturday, 31 July 2021 12:35