Reading I: Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14b-16a
Reading II: 1 Corinthians 10:16-17
GOSPEL: John 6:51-58

Food for Thought

Remember the part in the bible when Burt Reynolds says to Dom DeLuise that “man can’t live on bread alone”? Then Dom says,”I can. I love bread. You know my favorite is a Parkerhouse roll. It’s just so nice . . .” (Am I dating myself with this movie quote?)

Ok so maybe that’s not in the New Standard Version of the bible, but it does bring up a good point. This week’s liturgy is about what we choose to fill ourselves with.

Small Choices Weighed Me Down

About 6 months before my wedding day, I came to the conclusion that I was about 15 pounds heavier than what I wanted to be. I needed to get in shape! I needed to look good for the wedding and not have a gut hanging out on the beach during the honeymoon.

What was terrible about gaining those 15 or 20 extra pounds was that they sort of snuck up on me. I thought I was fairly healthy and doing fine, but before I realized it, there were more rolls on my body than there were on the table. It was as if I just sort of woke up one morning and thought, “when did I let myself get fat?”

Then I remembered. Ah, maybe I shouldn’t have had a Dairy Queen Blizzard at, like, 9:30 at night. Maybe my dinner of sautéed pierogies could have used a food group other than starch. Maybe I shouldn’t have washed it down with a nice glass dark of beer.

Ah, it was the little choices along the way that left me feeling a bit heavier and a lot more out of shape in the long run. It makes me wonder what other seemingly small choices I’m making today that I’ll regret tomorrow!

We Need the “Food” that Jesus Offers

People in the time of Moses – and even hundreds of years later, in the time of Jesus – had much the same problem that I did. Day by day, they were making choices that left them feeling weighed down and less than their best selves. When this happened, God offered a solution. He sent manna and provided water for Moses’ people. Then He sent Jesus for us all.

If it’s true that we are what we eat, than Jesus is something that everyone’s diet needs. Everyone needs a pick-me-up. Everyone needs to feel whole. Sharing the Eucharist does that because it truly brings us into communion with Christ.

But there are several ways we experience the presence of Jesus. One is in the presence of the Eucharist at Mass. Think about it. We believe that we are actually asking Jesus to come into our bodies and dwell within us. He refreshes us and energizes us and makes us realize that he wants to be present in our lives.

But Jesus is present in other ways during the Mass. He is present in the priest, who celebrates the Mass “in persona Christi,” meaning “in the person of Christ.” Jesus is also present in the congregation, so communion occurs between people, too. This is why we give the greeting of peace when we do. We show a sign of our union with each other as human beings who all deserve God’s love, though we often withhold our own.

Jesus is also present in the Word. I’ve never been able to truly say for sure whether the bible is humankind’s quest for God or God’s quest for humankind. But many of the stories I know by heart and many others I seem to hear for the first time. God is truly present in the stories we tell – in much the same way as when we tell a story about someone who has died and they are made “real” to us again through the story. I’m amazed at how simply smelling an odor or hearing a sound associated with a time in my life, brings that point real and clear to me in the present. The same is true when we hear the inspired word of God through scripture.

Newsflash: God Still Providing

I once watched a video on the Holocaust with my students. We listened to interviews of Jewish people who talked about how everything they had, even their most basic rights, had been stripped away.

One family sold their last loaf of bread so that they might have a prayer book. The book also contained the words to use at various Jewish holidays.

The man had tears in his eyes as he explained how it had been this little book that had kept his family together. In celebrating their faith, they found hope. Their faith gave them community and strengthened them in ways a loaf of bread never could have.

Deal A Meal

Every day we make choices about what food to eat. Usually these aren’t life-threatening choices, but they can affect how we look and how we feel about ourselves.

Every day we also have choices about what type of spiritual food we want to eat. These may not always seem like big choices, but they can affect how we feel about ourselves and the world – and their impact can actually last longer than life itself. The countless little spiritual choices we sometimes carelessly make throughout our lives have implications for our eternal life!

Today, let us nourish ourselves with all that God has to offer. When we do this, we feel alive and rejuvenated enough to pass that “healthy” attitude on to others. We cannot live by bread alone. It is our interactions with God and with others that truly make us whole.

Life Applications:

Do you find it hard to see Christ truly present at Mass? Why or why not?
Do you find it hard to see Christ truly present in others? Why or why not?
What are the habits or tendencies you fill up on that separate you from the Body of Christ?

Original article by Nick Popadich, 2002 – 2020.
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