Soul Food

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

August 1, 2021 – 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time - John 6:24-35

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My wife and I were making our weekly visit to our local Safeway when I asked her, “How do they keep track of all this food? There must be thousands of different items on the shelves. And how can one choose amid such plenty?”

She quietly thought about this and gave me her answer. “Just focus on those items under ‘the manager’s special’ sign. That makes our picks easier. Also, we only need what’s on our shopping list. And stay out of the candy aisle.”

So goes our weekly adventure of food shopping. We need to eat but we must also be careful of what we eat. It must be healthy, and it must be on sale.

Today’s gospel is also about food.

Jesus had recently fed about 5,000 hungry souls on the banks of Lake Galilee. They were given their full and it seems that they wanted more. This posed a problem for Jesus because he did not simply want to be known as the free-food-guy. He was offering nourishment, not just for the body, but also for the soul. And nourishment that would remain life-giving forever. True soul food.

What he said to them was not easily understood. For instance, he said that he was offering them “the food that endures for eternal life,” a bread that was created in heaven – thus by God. And he concluded by saying that he was the bread of life.

All of this forced his listeners to look beyond the obvious, to really think deeply about what he was describing. As do we, who take his words seriously, and have been doing so to this present day.

Here’s how I think about this. This eternal bread referred to in this gospel is the person of Jesus himself. And Jesus is not only “in heaven” but also remains present among us here on earth. He dwells in many places, but especially in us. He is our nourishment. The one who enlivens us. The one who transforms our lives into a life that will last forever. ©

Our daily bread (think of the Our Father) is part of our lives, our thoughts, words and deeds that become part of the Body of Christ. This is God’s “Manager’s Special,” that we are offered. We do well to take advantage of that offer today.

©David M. Thomas, PhD

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