GOSPEL REFLECTION: 18th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B)
Sunday, 5th August 2018
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
First Reading: Exodus 16:2-4,12-15,31a
Responsorial Psalm: The Lord gave them the bread of heaven.
Second Reading: Ephesians 4:17,20-24
GOSPEL: John 6:24-35
When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were at the place where Jesus had given the bread, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.
When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.”
Then they said to Jesus, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you?” What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, “He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”
Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven and gives life to the world.”
They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
The Gospel of the Lord: Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
This Sunday’s Gospel text relates to us what happened the day after the miracle of the five loaves and two fishes took place. The next day, when the crowd did not find Jesus and his disciples at the place where Jesus had multiplied the bread, they went to Capernaum in search of Jesus. And when they found him, they said to Jesus, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” To which Jesus replied, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.” Our Lord always tells the truth in a straightforward and direct way. He will never water down his words. He calls a spade a spade, so to speak. In other words, Jesus was like telling the people, “You are not looking for God, but you are here only for free lunch.” This reminded me of a conversation between two friends. One of them said to the other, “I came here to visit you, it’s been a while since the last time I saw you. I really miss you.” But to his surprise, the friend replied, “Oh cut the crap. Why are you here really? What do you want from me?” To which he responded, “I want to borrow money from you.” Some people remember you only when they need something from you. This was the reaction of our Lord Jesus in today’s Gospel text. He was telling the people, “You are looking for me not because you want to listen to the good news but because you had your fill. You are only after your physical needs and not for spiritual nourishment.” Therefore, today’s Gospel text serves as a challenge and an invitation for us to look beyond the material things. Jesus is inviting us to go beyond the physical needs, that we may focus our attention more on Christ, who is the real bread of life. That’s the reason why he was talking about the sign. “I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to me will never hunger, he who believes in me will never thirst.” Last week, we saw how Christ was able to feed the hungry crowd with physical bread in the miracle of the loaves and fish. Yes, Jesus can satisfy our physical needs. He is a compassionate God. But his challenge is for us to see a new level of understanding about the bread of life. Jesus is not only offering us an ordinary bread. He is offering us a bread that gives eternal life. Whilst he is concern about our physical well-being, Jesus is more concern about our spiritual well-being. This was the challenge he presented to the Samaritan woman at the well. John 4:10 – He said to the Samaritan woman, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that said to you, Give me to drink, you would have asked of him, and he would have given you living water.”
Jesus recognized the human flaws and weaknesses. A man has the tendency to be so short-sighted as to focus more on the satisfaction of physical needs. Indeed, he’s got an insatiable lust for material needs – wealth, power, fame and popularity. Until he realizes that there is a deeper inner longing, a hunger, thirst, a craving and emptiness that demands to be filled and satisfied. The question is what can satisfy your soul? It is Christ alone who can satisfy all our longings. The longings of the human heart can only be satisfied by our Lord Jesus. Psalm 107:9 – “For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” St. Augustine recognized this truth as he said: “You have made me for yourself, O Lord, and my heart is restless until it finds its rest in you.”
Story: The story is told about four men adrift on the Atlantic Ocean near the equator. They were so thirsty that they were trying to squeeze moisture from the pieces of canvas on their small lifeboat. When the rescuers finally arrived, they found the men almost dying of dehydration. After gradually reviving them, the rescuers asked them, how come you are dying of dehydration when you are surrounded with potable water. The four men asked the rescuers, “What do you mean?” The rescuers explained, “As you see, you were afloat near the Amazon River, a river so huge that it pushes fresh water far out into the ocean. You could have dipped a bucket off the side of your boat and drawn out drinkable water.” The men realized that all the while they were fighting for a few drops of moisture, they had actually been floating on potable water.
Lesson: People recognized their thirst but they ignore the water that can satisfy them. People are thirsty but unaware of the readily accessible source of fresh water. We are like those four men if we continue to ignore Jesus in our lives. We will always be thirsty amidst fresh water. Jesus is the living water. Jesus is the bread of life. He could satisfy our inner longings- the cravings of souls. Sometimes, we will say to our Lord – “But Lord, my needs are deep, my worries are deep, my problems are deep, my flaws are deep. Can you handle that my Lord.” Jesus will invite us to come to him. For we will never know unless we experience his love personally. “I am the Bread of Life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”