Do we believe that God gives us what we need? The Israelites in our first reading from Exodus are wandering the desert. They are in the desert because they have had something amazing happen to them – they have been freed from slavery. And yet, as they wander in the desert, they begin to doubt God, doubt whether or not God is still with them, and even wish they were back in Egypt as slaves! So, God, as a sign of his love and fidelity gives them their fill of bread to eat. He provides for them in a time of need.
The people are following Jesus, but they lost track of him. So they go to another part of the sea. When they arrive, they find Jesus already at the town and he confronts them saying, Amen, Amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. In other words, they seem to be looking for Jesus only because he provided them all with food – he provided for them what they needed. But Jesus tells them, that the miracle of loaves and the fish was performed so that they would seek food that endures for eternal life. But instead, they misunderstood and kept seeking food that perishes. But Jesus wanted to give them something more. Jesus wanted to give them what they truly needed. He wants to give them food that endures.
The Lord gives us what we need. That is the good news we receive this weekend. And it’s the best news. The Israelites in the desert were complaining and doubting God. And he gives them bread to remind them that he will give them what they need. The people seeking Jesus in our Gospel, doubt who Jesus really is. They see his signs but they don’t understand. They ask for a greater sign. He answers and they don’t realize that his answer truly is the greatest sign he could give. I am the Bread of life, says Jesus, your ancestors ate bread from heaven, but I am the bread of life that comes down from heaven to give you life. Jesus is making an identity claim here. I am the one who comes from God. I am one of divine origin. I have been sent by the Father to give you life.
So what do you need? The Eucharist provides for all our needs. Are you seeking help in an addiction or a struggle with sin? The Eucharist is your answer. It is the spiritual medicine that Christ gives to help us overcome our weaknesses. Are you seeking deeper friendship and communion with Christ? The Eucharist and the living Word of God will give that to you. Are you seeking real friendship and a sense of belonging in a Christian community? The Eucharist gives that to you as well. It is the bond of fellowship. The Eucharist is what brings each of us here together as God’s family. My friends, I cannot stress this point enough. Coming together around this Eucharistic table brings us closer to our Lord and closer to each other. It is the sign of God’s love for us and our shared love for each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. Coming together and sharing the Eucharist, we become icons of God’s goodness to each other. If we see God working in the lives of others here, we become encouraged in our own spiritual lives. Do you desire to love as Christ loves? The Eucharist expands your heart and helps you grow in charity. Do you simply just want to give Jesus thanks for the blessings God has given you. Well, my friends, that’s the meaning of gathering around the Eucharistic table – the place where we give thanks!
May the Eucharist we receive today help us to open our hearts to receive from God what each of us truly needs.
In Christ’s love and friendship,