August 1, 2021 – 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/080121.cfm)
It could happen that once in a while some wayward beggars would come to us & ask for some “bahaw” or left-over food to eat. Once I gave some enough food for a day to a beggar. As he received the food, he asked: “Walay kape ug saging man lang?” (How about some coffee & fruits for extra?). Though this irritated me, it also made me think: “If I’m going to give, why not give all – the full package deal with all the extras? Why only give enough for the day? Why not for the whole week?
But as we all know, human as we are, we are not easily contented. Hard for us to be fully satisfied. We want more. We need more than we already have. Like that wayward beggar, we want some extra: extra rice, sauce, toppings, privileges, discount, bonus, payment and others, but effortless & easily, if possible, quickly. So, when is the limited resources that I have now, enough for me? When is the less that I have, enough for me to share with others who are in need? So, when is enough is enough?
Somehow at the very heart of our readings today is the question about ENOUGH.
In Exodus, we hear that after escaping slavery from Egypt, the people of Israel found themselves free but hungry in the desert. They needed food for the journey & they grumbly complained about their predicament. To the point of blaming Moses & even preferring to be slave again in Egypt but nourished, rather than free but starving in the wilderness. Yahweh heard their cries & addressed their needs. God rained down bread from heaven for them, and they only have to gather enough bread for their daily portion. Great! But they also asked: “What’s this?”. And perhaps may also have asked: “only this, fine flakes?” It might be from heaven, but why only biscuits/flakes? Why not pizza or burger? No extra drinks? And why gather only enough for the day? Why not save & reserve for tomorrow?
In the same way in our gospel today, after they were fed and have their fill at the multiplication of loaves, the people followed Jesus because they want more. They never had enough. They need more extra from Jesus. In their mind, they would think: “Since you, Jesus have already fed us, what more can You offer us? What shall we do to have what You can give us? Do we need to work for food?
Through the manna from heaven, Yahweh gave the people enough manna provision for the day – not pizza for the whole week, because as Yahweh said, “I will test them, to see whether they follow my instructions or not”. The graces before us now then is a test in our faith with God rather than rescue operation to satisfy our immediate & urgent needs. In the same way, there is more to the miracle of Jesus than just the feeding of the multitude. It is a challenge for the people-then & us-now, as Jesus said: to “BELIEVE in the one God sent”. In the same way as God sent manna from Heaven, God sent us His son, Jesus not just to satisfy our cravings, our needs & hunger for more, but more so to offer us fullness & meaningful life. Here, Jesus clearly proclaiming to us now: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”
Simply put: In life , Jesus is Enough for Us. He is all that we need in life, nothing more, nothing less. Only required of us now is to accept Him, as God-sent bread of Life, and believe His life & witness as God’s work of salvation, is enough and more than enough for us, and for all.
This is what St. Alphonsus de Liguori, the founder of the Redemptorists whom we also honor today believes. For St. Alphonsus, “With Him, there is fullness of redemption” – with Jesus, we got & have abundance grace & blessing. In other words, Jesus is enough & more than enough for us. And Jesus & all his offer of graces are given for all and not only for the few. All has a share in God’s blessing of Redemption – and this is what St. Alphonsus and we Redemptorists, & all of us Christian, believe & proclaim to all people in the world, most especially to the poor, neglected & most abandoned: Jesus, the bread of Life is enough for us & for all.
When Jesus taught us to pray “Give us each day our daily bread”, he doesn’t want us just to express our needs, since the Father knows already what we need. But he wants us to express our faith in God that we believe and abide with whatever the Father wills for us. Thus, when all is said and done, it was not the manna that sustained the Israelites in the desert, it was not the bread and fishes in the Jesus’ time, it was not our daily bread that sustains us today. What sustained them and us today is our faith and trust in God.
No matter how difficult life may be, for those who trust in God, and live a day at a time, rest assured, God’s blessing of manna from heaven falls everyday with Jesus always with us. Lord, our bread of life, Your Love & your grace is Enough for us. Continue to nourish & give us life especially now during these trying times of pandemic. Amen.