Each of us has our food treat, our culinary delight. For some people, no meal is complete without dessert. There is always room for something sweet and there is never a pass on the dessert menu. For others, the entrée/main course is really what a meal is about. The meat/chicken/fish is the focus of the meal — everything else is literally a “side dish”.
There are others who judge a restaurant or a meal by the bread that is served. From the bread and butter/dipping sauce at the beginning to the bread served during the meal — the bread is a special treat and much more than a filler.
For the third week in a row, the scripture speaks about bread — and the commitment of our God to provide nourishment, to meet our needs with bread from heaven.
First, there was the miracle of the loaves and the fish. Jesus was able to feed the masses with the meager offerings of a young boy in the crowd. A little in the hands of God was sufficient for all who had gathered.
Then, there was Jesus talking about himself — He alone — as being THE BREAD of life …. and the assurance that all who came to him would never hunger or thirst again. We would always have our fill — more than we need if we come to HIM.
This weekend, Jesus affirms —- I am the bread of life — I am the living bread. I am bread, for the life of the world.
There is HUGE CHALLENGE, a grave warning from the first book of Kings [19:4-8] — eat — or else the journey will be too long for you. The challenges of life will crush us if we attempt to stand up to them famished, without true food. Then, after the prophet ate, he was strengthened for a 40 day journey.
So, regardless of the importance bread plays for us in our ordinary, daily food routine — this heavenly bread is another matter …. a totally different matter. We may pass on the bread when it is offered to us at the restaurant —- but we better not pass on the bread that Jesus offers — the bread that Jesus is.
Worship — the table fellowship — is not in truth about the bread that is offered — it is not about savoring or adoring the bread with delight — it is ABOUT SEEING the Jesus beyond the bread — the bread that is Jesus for our benefit — the Jesus who comes to satisfy. It is about receiving and taking in Jesus — the living Jesus — who IS THE BREAD. The bread we eat — as real as it is — is not the bread in and of itself. Jesus is the Bread, the true bread.
What are some of the practical messages from this weekend’s scripture?
1. Do not mumble/grumble with your mouth full.
Jesus heard their murmuring while talking about himself. When food/bread ranks with air and water as basic human needs, it is ungrateful to live in a state of discontent/complaining when most of us have more than enough to eat. With our pantries full and with ourselves being well nourished, it is not right for us to murmur and show discontent when others have so much less than us and so much more reason to complain.
2. Recall the words of last week’s Gospel — work for food than does not perish. “Store up” food that really means something, not just “junk” food. Eat good food, spend our money on things that are really worthy of us as a child of God.
3. The food Jesus offers us — himself — promises eternal life. The bread we receive each week not only helps us for the earthly journey, but it provides nourishment that gives us life beyond our days here on earth. The table we approach each week is unlike any other table at which we might sit — this food from heaven leaves us satisfied for all days to come.
Today we are invited to TASTE AND SEE THE GOODNESS OF THE LORD. Let us not eat so fast and unknowingly that we failed to savor and see who it is that is feeding us — He who has come down from God the Father to lead us back to the Father.
At times we know it is best that we tell a waiter/waitress that we do not want any more bread. We have had enough and we want to leave room for the entrée to come. When Jesus asks if there is anything else we need, we humbly say, “yes, more bread, please.”