Homily Ė 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)
In our first reading today we hear that the Israelites are grumbling, which by now probably doesnít come as a big surprise to us. After all the miracles God has worked for them, parting the Red Sea and leading them out of Egypt they still have doubts as to whether or not God will provide for them. Always they are grumbling for more. They are not overly thankful for what has been done for them. Amazed yes, but thankful no. Instead they are looking for their next meal ticket. They doubt Godís faithfulness to provide for their needs. Now remember that because we will see it again.
Aside from Godís faithfulness and His providing for their needs yet again, which also isnít a big surprise, we have a very interesting statement by the Lord to Moses. He says: ďTell them: In the evening twilight you shall eat flesh, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread, so that you may know that I, the LORD, am your God.Ē If we look beyond the literal meaning to a more spiritual meaning we will see that the beginning of Salvation History is the dawn and the Final Age, the age of Christ, is the evening twilight. Thus at the beginning they ate bread, the manna from Heaven the Lord promised. In the evening they will eat Flesh as the Lord promised.
Now I will resist the temptation to tell you about the Gospel two weeks from now but I want you to be prepared for it when it comes. One of the most amazing things about Salvation History is how it unfolds over time, and I mean thousands of years. Christ said in Matthew that he didnít come to abolish the law of the Old Testament but he came to fulfill it. Many things and events in the Old Testament are but shadow of what is to come. If you study the scriptures it will blow you away. Here is where I would like to make a brief pitch for our Bible study being offered in the bulletin. It will show you some of these amazing fulfillments over the ages. But lets see what is fulfilled today in the scriptures.
Moses led the people to an earthly kingdom, a land flowing with milk and honey, and an abundance of food. However all these things were passing. They were not that which would last. In the Gospel today Jesus tells us to work for the food that doesnít perish. He is the one that will bring an eternal, heavenly kingdom, he is the one that will bring us to the promised land. He is, as he says the Bread of life, the food that never perishes.
Letís move forward to todayís readings. Here too we hear the people grumbling. They want a sign. I can understand wanting a sign. At some time or another we all want a sign to show us that were on the right track. But these people had just seen Jesus multiply 5 loaves and two fish to feed close to 5000 men. That would be a pretty big sign to me. But what we really see is that people donít change much. After all Moses had just led the Israelites through the Red Sea and they were grumbling about food as well. The doubted Godís faithfulness because they were hungry even after all they had seen. Jesus says as much here. You arenít looking for me because of signs but because I fed you. They want more. They arenít satisfied with what they had already, which was tremendous, but they wanted more. They were not grateful for what they had. I want to make three points about this Gospel.
1. We need to be people of thanksgiving. We canít look first to what we donít have but to what we do have. If not, then we ignore the signs of Godís providence and we become a grumbling people. Grumbling is the first stirrings of sin. First we doubt God. Then we choose to take matters in our own hand. Like Adam and Even we grumble about what we donít have, that one apple. Then we become convinced we must have it. Ultimately we rebel against God and we reach out and TAKE IT for ourselves. Ingratitude is a quick and sure path to serious sin. This is why we must be people of thanksgiving. Thanksgiving must be our first response to needs. We canít focus on what we donít have but what we do. For some people that will never be enough. I hope that person isnít you. Do not be an ungrateful person. Be a person of gratitude.
2. Jesus says that we shouldnít work for the food that perishes but the food that doesnít perish. Yes, material needs are real but spiritual needs are more important. Shouldnít we work hardest for the things that are most important? If you had to choose between medicine for your heart and cable Television which would you choose? In the same way we must work harder for our spiritual needs than our material ones. That isnít always the case though. In the United States, where all of our material needs, are easily met, it is even more important that we work for the food that doesnít perish. We will work overtime for a Big screen TV or a Boat or Christmas money but we wonít spend an hour a week outside of Mass in front of the Blessed Sacrament. We too are in danger of becoming a grumbling people that will miss what is really important.
We talked about last week if we are careless stewards of what we have materially then we will be spiritually as well.
3. Only Jesus can satisfy our innermost desires. He is the Bread of Life. The Bread that gives life to the World. Whoever comes to him will never hunger or thirst. You were made for God. You might not like it but that is the way it is. God designed you to only be satisfied by him. You can try as hard as you like to avoid it but you are stuck with it. The only way you can be truly happy, and satisfied is by God. Everything else is fleeting and an illusion. The only thing you have to do to accomplish the works of God is to believe in the one who he sent, Jesus. Jesus said it right in our Gospel. Either he is a liar or he is telling the truth. Your job, Your work is to Believe in Jesus Christ and every word he taught us. Guess what? If you donít work, you donít eat. Believe.
To sum up:
1. Be thankful for what you have. Be a person of gratitude
2. First things first, work hard in your spiritual life.
3. Believe in Christ and every word he taught.