EIGHTEENTH SUNDAY IN THE ORDINARY TIME, YEAR B.
1st August 2021
Exodus 16:2-4,12-15; Ephesians 4:17,20-24; John 6:24-35.
In today’s celebration Jesus wants us to see beyond his miracles and the granting of our prayer requests. Jesus wants us to focus on the eternal life that he gives. This was the theme of his encounter with the crowd in today’s gospel. The crowd crossed to Capernaum in search of Jesus because of the food they had eaten at the feeding of the Five Thousand. When they found him, he made it clear to them that they are working for food that cannot last. He urged them to work for food that endures to eternal life by believing in him and not in the miracles he performed.
Our inability to see beyond the provision of our immediate needs by God prevents us from encountering the person of Jesus Christ as the giver of life. In the first reading the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron due to lack of food. They asked, ‘Why did we not die at the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we were able to sit down to pans of meat and could eat bread to our heart’s content! As it is, you have brought us to this wilderness to starve this whole company to death!’ In their complaint and fixation to material needs, they failed to see the freedom of being delivered from Egypt, the land of slavery. They preferred to remain in slavery and have enough to eat just as the crowd of today’s gospel preferred the free food provided by Jesus than the eternal life of believing in him.
Material needs are important but not all there is to life. Our needs are insatiable, for they keep presenting themselves. What Jesus is offering through eternal life is what can satisfy our needs once and for all. In order to understand what Jesus is offering us today, the second reading tells us; ‘You must give up your old way of life; you must put aside your old self, which gets corrupted by following illusory desires. Your mind must be renewed by a spiritual revolution so that you can put on the new self that has been created in God’s way, in the goodness and holiness of the truth.’ We must rid ourselves of the illusion that there’s a time when all our needs will be provided. Jesus is the bread of life that satisfies our needs. When we participate in the Holy Eucharist, we see beyond the material needs. The presence of the Eucharistic Jesus in our lives will enlighten us towards the things that really matter about life.
Fr Anthony Ekpunobi, CM.