August 1, 20210 – 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/080121.cfm)
To feel hungry is a basic human experience. Thus, I am sure each of us has experienced that feeling of being hungry since we were babies. Babies especially would always cry when they are hungry. A parent’s automatic response to a crying baby is to feed the baby with milk. When the baby starts sucking, the baby also stops from crying. When we become adults, we continue such behavior though we do not cry anymore but feed ourselves with food that can satisfy our hunger.
This human behavior in us is what we have heard in our readings this Sunday. The Book of Exodus told us the story of the Israelites. Since they fled from Egypt, their life was always uncertain. They were in the middle of the desert where there was no place to plant and cultivate something for their food nor a place to buy their supplies. The people became weary because of their difficult situation until they grew hungry. Moses who led and brought them out of Egypt had almost became a father to them. To him, the people cried out their needs. They cried and grumbled to Moses to provide them food because they were hungry. The Lord, in his goodness, sent food to the desert so that they will be satisfied.
Our Gospel tells us of the same behavior. The people were in search of Jesus because they wanted Jesus to satisfy their hunger. They followed him after he did a miracle in feeding the five thousand people. The people recognized that Jesus will satisfy their needs. This became an opportunity for Jesus to teach them an important lesson.
Jesus knew that the people were after him because of their hunger. However, the people were only concerned of an immediate satisfaction. They were limited in that satisfaction of a physical hunger. Thus, they were looking for Jesus to satisfy them immediately. In a way, they have become obsessed or fixated to what Jesus can provide to them. They were after the miracles of Jesus but not in the person of Jesus.
Jesus understood them. Thus, he reminded them to seek the bread that gives eternal life and not the bread that perishes. This means that the people were invited to seek not those things that only provide instant and immediate satisfaction but the person of Jesus himself.
This reminds me that we are not different from those people in the Bible. How many times have we sought to satisfy immediately our different forms of hunger? Jesus is not just talking about our physical hunger. Jesus points to us today to recognize our human hungers for acceptance, for recognition, for friendship, for love and intimacy, for justice, for peace and reconciliation.
We cry out these many forms of hungers just like the Israelites in the Book of Exodus and in the Gospel. We tend to satisfy those longings and hungers immediately. Hence, instead of looking for what is essential and lasting, we resort to the promises of “instant satisfaction” and to an “immediate result.”
Their consequences will surely be destructive, unhelpful and the corruption of life. Addictions such as in alcohol, drugs, sex or food are ways to satisfy our deepest hunger. Yet, because they only promise an instant gratification and so we hold on to those addictions to numb our hunger for love, for attention and intimacy. Our obsessive fixations in spending too much time in social media, or online games or with gadgets, remove us from the true and personal encounter with people. Because of the lack of human connection, we divert our need into what is temporary, virtual and not real. Our compulsive behaviors in gossiping, in defaming people and in finding the faults and weaknesses of others seemingly give us the image of a good person, righteous than others. However, these behaviors only blind us of our true longing to be recognized and be appreciated.
Our obsession to be powerful, to exercise dominance and control over the weak and to resort to violent and aggressive actions apparently make us confident, independent and strong. However, they too blind us from that hunger to find our true self and our true potentials.
Jesus invites us to recognize him, that is, to recognize God, His love and friendship with us as our food that will satisfy our hunger. He is the bread that gives us life. This Eucharist is the gift and our food that should satisfy our deepest human hunger. That is why, this Eucharist is more than what we think. This is not simply prayers and readings, standing and kneeling, singing and saying amen. This Eucharist is our very relationship with God and with one another. This is all about us and God, you and me and Jesus.
I would like to invite you then, so that we will be able to make this Eucharist truly life-giving; ask the Lord to help us recognize our different hungers. Be mindful of our compulsive actions, fixations and some forms of addictions because those behaviors in us will tell us of our own hungers and needs. When we become conscious of those, hopefully, it will lead us to seek to what will last, to what is more essential in our relationships and to what will truly satisfy us. And above all, may we find Jesus and his love. Hinaut pa.