August 8, 2021 – 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/080821.cfm)
We Filipinos love to eat. Western people could not understand that why we Filipinos (usually with such small stature/build) love to eat. It is said that we eat at least seven times a day. With the usual breakfast, lunch, and dinner, we also have snacks, merienda, timo-timo before dinner, and midnight snacks. This is because eating for us is not only about food but also about sharing. Meaning, we eat not only for the sake of the food-intake but also for the companionship, togetherness, fellowship, relationship, and community it brings.
We gain a lot of wisdom about life from our eating activities. For instance, we hear people saying: “You are what you eat”. This does not mean literally – that if you eat pork, you are a pig; or if you eat vegetables, you are vegetable. No, it simply means that our food-intakes influence and affect not only our blood chemistry and physical health, but also our lifestyle. Meaning, what we eat mirrors our lifestyle and our lifestyle is revealed in our diet. So, healthy people most likely eat healthy food; sick people are most likely lived with poor diet. In the same way, diabetic, arthritic, or hypertensive must follow low-sugar, low-salt, or low cholesterol diet and eat healthy food; otherwise, they remain diabetic, arthritic or hypertensive with consequent complications. So, there is some wisdom in the saying: “Be careful of what you eat, because you are what you eat.”
In our gospel today, Jesus says: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever. Here Jesus clearly proclaims and reveals Himself as the Bread of Life – thus, he is the very bread or manna from heaven that nourished and sustained the Israelites during their exodus in the desert, as well as the very angel that took care and restored the physical and moral strength of Elijah in the time of his persecution.
For the Jews, the word: Bread of Life is very important to their Jewish faith because it signifies the manna from heaven – the very food that maintains, sustains, and nourishes them during exodus and times of persecution. It also represents Yahweh’s direct interventions and mediations in their lives. Meaning, the Bread of Life is the whole dynamic between the food, the giver of the food, and the giving of the food.
Based from their faith in the Bread of life, Jesus before them claims himself and proclaims that HE is the bread of life. This means that He, Jesus is now the whole dynamic of God’s salvation for humanity. Thus, He is our food – the manna from heaven; also our giver of the food; and God’s giving of the food. He is the Way – savior; Truth – salvation; Life – dynamic sharing of God’s salvation. He is our Gift, Giver, and the Giving-sharing of Salvation.
Moreover, as he proclaims that He is the Bread of Life, he also offers Himself to them and to us now: Take this bread and eat “for whoever eats this bread will live forever.” As bread of life, Jesus wants us to take Him, i.e. to receive, accept and believe in Him for in Him we inherit eternal life. At the same time, he wants us to eat Him, i.e. to assimilate and integrate Him in communion into our lives. If in eating, we are what we eat, in salvation, we become in and with Jesus Christ when we integrate and commune with Him. In others words, we are Christian because we together at the Lord’s Eucharist, receive & eat (take on) Jesus always, as our bread of Life into our very lives now.
Lord, pandemic times have rendered us hungry and deprived of our Eucharistic food. Lockdowns, isolations & quarantine limit our movements and participation in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. Not only for our daily food nourishment, we are also hungry nowadays for our spiritual food & nourishments. May our hunger now for You, as our bread of life, inspire us to value, long and hope for your ever-present offer of eternal life for us.
So Help us, God. So May it be. Amen.