St. Michael's Parish - Cobourg

What is the food of our heart?                                        -Homily August 2, 2015

 

Jesus today is speaking to the crowd that has been filled with the multiplication of the bread. After the miracle of the bread, Jesus sent his disciples off in a boat and he himself had gone to pray to the desert. A storm came up for the disciples, and Jesus went to help them walking on the sea. That is why people, who are still pursuing Jesus, ask him “when did you come here?” As if they were saying: “You were not in the boat with us, you did not come with your disciples, how did you get here?”

 

Jesus will not tell them that he came walking on the sea. There is already too much excitement because of the multiplication of the bread. They had already tried to make him king. Jesus does not want more problems. He will try to make a point: “do not look for me for earthly blessings, I came to give eternal blessings. Do not look for me as a miracle maker, but recognize that those miracles are signs of something much better I want to give you. If the sign is so beautiful and perfect, how much more is the reality, the life I will give!”

 

1. Jesus gets to the point immediately: “You are looking for me not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.” In other words, you hurry behind me because you want more earthly blessings, you come after me because you feel good with me and you want to feel good again. But you did not see signs, in the sense that you did not see those miracles as signs, as things that indicate another reality. When you ate the bread, you enjoyed your food, and you tried to make me your earthly king, so that your bellies may always be full and happy. When you ate those breads, you didn’t think that I meant something else. You did not remember that “man does not live on bread alone.” You were satisfied, and you did not go beyond the sign to the reality signified, you did not go from the gift to the giver, you did not go from the earthly happiness of a moment to the eternal happiness signified.

 

2. “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.” As if saying: As I gave you the bread of the earth, I will give you the bread of heaven. As I satisfy your earthly desires of a moment, I will satisfy your infinite desire of happiness. Do not be so concerned about your material needs when you talk to me. Realize that my love is much better than anything else on earth. “Your love is better than life,” the Psalm says.

 

The people did not understand. They ask: What work must we do? Jesus answers: the work you must do is to believe in me. They were asking for an external price, for something easy to do and then be done with it. But Jesus asked them for faith, which is the gift of yourself: it is relatively easy to give money to the church, or to make some prayers; but to have faith in what you do not see is to give your intelligence and your confidence to God, to a God you cannot see. They didn’t want to do that, they wanted something easier: “What sign are you going to give us then?” If we see, we will believe. Moses gave us manna from heaven. Give us what we want, give us bread to eat like Moses, and we will be with you.

 

3. “It was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven.” As if he were saying: “I am talking about a different bread, one that really gives life to the world.” They still did not understand, but they asked: Well, if it gives life, if it is the true bread, “give us this bread always,” thinking probably in something that they will be able to eat every day in this life. Yes and no!, so Jesus plainly says: “I am the bread of life.” I am the only one who gives life, satisfaction and happiness. I am the only one who makes life worth living. “Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

 

Yes, you can consume me every day, you can welcome my word and my Eucharist every day if you wish. But I am not an earthly food. Earthly food needs an empty stomach to profit: I need faith, I need a heart empty of pride and hungry for the unknown, empty from earthly desires and thirsty for eternal happiness. I want you to love me above all things, to put me at the centre of your hearts. I do not want to be a Sunday happening in your lives, I want to be the only reason you breathe. I am the bread of life for the one who is hungry for me. I am the joy of the one who loves me above all things. I am the friend of the one who realizes that no friend on earth is like me. I am the spouse of the one who cannot be satisfied with any human love. I am the life of the one who realizes that no temporary things can fill the human heart. I am life for the one who realizes that a heart is dead if it does not cling to me.

 

Jesus does not want shows, he wants love. He does not want just a little bit of our time, he wants our freedom. He does not want us to be excited about him, but to be hungry of him. What he promises in turn cannot even be imagined. All the blessings we receive from him are but a glimpse of the joy he wants to give us. May the blessings we receive make us more hungry for him. May God be the reason of our life.  –Fr. Andrew

 

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