Usually we don’t complain when we get something for free. Jesus fed over 5,000 people and no complaints were recorded. Probably some of the best fish and bread that they ever tasted. They wanted more.
Jesus expressed disappointment at their motivation—their reason for looking for Him. “Do not work for food that perishes…” A ‘wake up call’ for humanity because most of our life is spent working for food that perishes. We earn the money, build the house, buy the car—all the things that will one day turn to dust. Yet, we cannot say that some possessions are not necessary, especially food. Food and water are vital to our existence. So why was Jesus critical of the crowd who were looking for food? Why did He express strong language against their motives? People had their priorities all mixed up. Jesus was interested in having a relationship with them, not just filling their stomachs. We are not so different. Consider our prayers. If we don’t need anything do we still pray? Do we take time to just sit in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament just to listen? Prayers of petition are the most popular. “Lord give me, Lord I need, Lord please help me.” God is our Provider, but we do not always get what we want. Countless cases exists of people who are angry with God because He did not grant their request. Some were good request—like for a sick person to get well, but they died. A prayer to get the necessary job, but someone else got it. We prayed for sunshine and it rained all day. Jesus never said that He came to do what we wanted. On the contrary, Jesus came to show us how to surrender our lives to the Father’s will—total surrender all the way to the cross.
In our developmental years we are suppose to learn that the world is much bigger than we are. We learn about having to obey authority—that there are some situations over which we have no control. The desire to be in control often leads to frustration. Everyone’s life has disappointments. As much as we try to avoid pain, pain is inevitable. The sooner that we face the fact that we are not the Boss, the happier we will be. The people looking for Jesus wanted more loaves and fish. He did not give them what they wanted. Jesus gave them something better—Himself.
They received a Eucharistic insight before the doctrine of the Real Presence was established. “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” That must have peeked their curiosity. No more hunger, no more thirst—what a great deal! Of course we have to go a lot deeper than the surface level of meaning. Sometimes we are hungry or thirsty and we don’t know for what. Nothing in the refrigerator will satisfy. There is an emptiness inside that no one and no thing can fill. We are lonely in a crowded room. We want to cry for no reason. We feel lost and we know where we are. Only the Bread of Life can fill the void. The one split second we have of awareness with the Eucharist inside of us—realizing the Jesus did not come to condemn, but to save—that the Eucharist does not depend on our worthiness, but on His mercy. More profound than magic—the Eucharist is the fulfillment of a promise—“…the true bread of God which comes down from heaven gives life to the world.” When we receive Holy Communion we are already in heaven. The Eucharist is a preview of the Heavenly Banquet. By every ounce of grace in our soul we need to focus on what is truly important. Nothing else matters.
The Son of Man is here to give us the food that endures. He is indeed the Bread of Life. With Him we will never be hungry; we will never be thirsty.