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Who Comes to Me Will Never Hunger

Who Comes to Me Will Never Hunger August 3, 2021

 

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to John:

When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there,
they themselves got into boats
and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus. 
And when they found him across the sea they said to him,
“Rabbi, when did you get here?” 

Jesus answered them and said,
“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. 
Do not work for food that perishes
but for the food that endures for eternal life,
which the Son of Man will give you. 
For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.” 
So they said to him,
“What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” 
Jesus answered and said to them,
“This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.” 
So they said to him,
“What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? 
What can you do? 
Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written:
    He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”
So Jesus said to them,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven;
my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 
For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven
and gives life to the world.”

So they said to him,

“Sir, give us this bread always.” 
Jesus said to them,
“I am the bread of life;
whoever comes to me will never hunger,
and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

 

The crowd had been ready to crown Jesus king, but he’d disappeared from their midst.

The same thing happened when they tried to stone Him to death, if you recall: He passed through their midst and went away, because His time had not yet come. He will be crowned king and then killed in Jerusalem, a short time from now, and it will hurt.

The crowd gets word He’s in Capernaum, and they go to find Him there. “Rabbi, when did you get here?”

“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.”

Well, what’s wrong with that?  He’s the one who fed them, after all.

“This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.” 

“What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do?  Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”

Days ago, Christ gave them a sign, that they might see and believe, but they’ve already forgotten that. They want something bigger. Days ago, He gave five thousand people bread and fish with plenty to spare, and now they’re hungry again. This is the problem with signs and wonders. They seem so memorable in the moment, but the memory actually fades quickly and then you need another and another and another. This is the problem with earthly food. It fills you up and everything is fine, but then it’s gone, and you need to eat again.

The trouble is, in this life, you can’t always be filled.

It ought to be different. Why it isn’t different is a mystery. But there will come a time in your life when you’re not filled. Your ancestors ate manna in the desert, but one day out of seven there was no manna to be found. Everyone suffers this at one point or another. Even Jesus, when He was crowned king, was empty, and rasped out “I thirst.”

Earthly food is good. It’s not a shameful thing. Earthly food is something you’re supposed to have. But every earthly food perishes eventually. Even that miraculous manna from Heaven went bad if the Israelites hoarded it too long. This happened to your ancestors in the desert, and one day it will happen to you. The things you earn on earth pass away, even though they are good things.

We are the same. We seek out Christ so He can work a miracle and give us something nice, and sometimes He does that at first. But then the nice thing passes away. And then, if you ask, Christ can give you what He really wanted to give you all along.

What Christ wants to give, will not pass away– not in the way that earthly things pass away. It will certainly die a death, and that death will be traumatic. You will look for it and not see it for a time. You will enjoy eating it, and then your stomach will go sour, and you’ll be hungry, and you’ll wonder if you ever really ate at all. It will give up the Ghost, and be buried with unclean things, and just when you thought you would starve to death you will see it come forth from the tomb alive again, and you will eat all you want and live forever.

What Christ wants to give you, is faith. Your faith will seem absolutely fervent at first, and then it will be shaken, and then it will seem to die as Christ died, and that will be traumatic, and you’ll feel that you’ve lost everything. But after you’ve endured the dark night for a time, your faith will rise from the dead.

What Christ wants to give you, is hope. Your hope will fill you with joy and peace, and you’ll feel that you could endure anything for His sake. And then your hope will be shaken, and it will seem to die as Christ died, and you’ll be certain that you are in hell and going to stay there and that everything you believed was a lie. But after you’ve endured the dark night for a time, your hope will rise from the dead.

What Christ wants to give you, is love. Your love will overwhelm you and melt you like wax, and then it will mold you into something different than you used to be. Your love will take your heart of stone and turn it into flesh, which hurts. It hurts so badly that your heart will break, and you won’t feel as though you have any love left. But after you’ve endured the dark night for a time, your love will rise from the dead.

What Christ wants to give you, is Himself.

What Christ wants to give you, is His own flesh and blood. Through partaking in His own flesh and blood, you will eat all of Christ– His Body, Blood, Soul, Divinity, His wisdom, His mercy, His joy, all of Him. You will take the whole of the limitless God into your limited self. And somehow, instead of destroying you, this will make you one with the Body of Christ.

All earthly things perish.

Whoever eats the food that perishes, will be hungry again before long.

Whoever starts to follow Christ will feel the deepest hunger, at first. But in the end, whoever comes to Christ will never hunger again.

Image via Pixabay

Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross and Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy.
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