The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for the home
August 5, 2018 – 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time - John 6:24-35
People think a lot about food these day. Maybe now more than ever. And over time, our personal food preferences might change. When I was a kid, if something was labelled “organic,” you likely wouldn’t eat it – or even touch it! Anything called a health food might have required a doctor’s prescription. And items like “ancient organic Ghee” or “veggie samosas” would not likely find their way into mom’s grocery basket. Although they are all available today at a Whole Foods store.
Seriously, today’s interest in food is driven by increased awareness that being healthy includes eating the right food, food that contains only what helps our bodies to be healthy, Artificial additives are not recommended. We want our food to be “real.”
In Jesus’ time, the number of available foods was quite limited. Delicacies would likely include fresh fish, poultry and a very limited amount of meat. The staple food would be grain, especially made into bread. Without bread people would starve.
We get a hint of the importance of bread in a recent Sunday gospel. Perhaps to the largest crowd Jesus ever addressed, bread and fish are multiplied by Jesus and served to satisfy the hunger of those gathered on the hillside to hear his words. When you think of it, bread is not only important for life to survive, but it can also symbolize the most important gift that God gives us, God’s own self, especially in the Eucharist.
What does the Eucharist mean to you? Do you think of it as a food directly created by God? (Because it is!) As Catholics, we believe that the bread “made with human hands” is changed during the Mass into the risen body of Jesus Christ. As we come forward, we take the body of Christ into ourselves, as Christ takes us into himself.
We are then part of the greatest miracle of all when a part of God’s creation (you and me) becomes part of Christ’s body. We receive the only food that will never spoil, the only nourishment that allows us to live not just on the day we receive it, but forever. The Eucharist bread and wine are created by God to become part of us. It is food for our life’s journey, which as today’s gospel says, “gives life to the world.” Not just human life, but divine life. We become what we eat. When we eat of the Body of Christ, we become like Christ, one of the most important truths of our faith.
©David M. Thomas, PhD