YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE 18TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: THE BREAD OF LIFE
BY: Fr Emmanuel Uchechukwu Muodebelu
Exodus 16:2-4, 12-15;
Ephesians 4:17, 20-24; John 6:24-35
There is this saying that “a hungry man is an angry man.” When someone is severely hungry, it will be difficult for him to be happy or think well. No wonder the Israelites revolted against Moses and Aaron; and despised God who delivered them from slavery. They forgot all that God had done for them and preferred to be slaves in Egypt, than to die as free born in the wilderness. They needed food in order to reach their destination. God therefore, proved to be the God of providence by giving them manna from Heaven. This Manna is to sustain them in order to reach the promised land.
In people followed Jesus in the Gospel because he had multiplied bread and fish to quench their hunger. He knew they were following him not because of the sign he performed but, because they needed something to eat. They needed signs and wonders to satisfy their material needs. He therefore made them know that the real food is the bread of life which will sustain their hunger forever.
The question we will ask ourselves today is, do we live to eat, or do we eat to live? If we live to eat, we can forget God’s goodness in the past like the Israelites. The quest for material food can blindfold us from recognising the goodness of God. In such situations, the virtues of faith, hope, endurance and patience will elude us. But, if we eat to live, these virtues will locate and sustain us at the time of lack. Those who live to eat are those who only worship God because of signs and wonders, and material things. Their faith is build in material needs. Instead accepting Jesus and the new life in Jesus, they always abandon their faith in times of difficulty.
Jesus reminded us, His followers not to labour for the food that perishes but, for the food that endures to eternal life, which the son of man will give to us. Jesus also made us know that it was not Moses that gave our fathers the manna from heaven rather, His father. This is to remind us that human beings are mere agents that God uses to reach us. Most often we become blinded by these human agents. We sometimes forget that human beings are mere instruments of God. We therefore, misplace God with human beings when we are too desperate for our stomach.
Jesus reminds us that He is the bread of life; who comes to Him shall not hunger, and he who believes in Him shall never thirst. What a Divine assurance from our master. He did it for the Israelites in the wilderness. He multiplied bread for His followers in the Gospel of today. He will do it for us. How He will do it, we do not. He has the Divine authority. When He speaks in our life, condition changes from lack to abundance; from anger into joy. God is God and not man. Let us not allow the temporary hunger to hamper our journey to eternal life. We are to look beyond the immediate. Jesus is the bread from heaven. The Israelites ate the manner and reached the promised land. When we eat the body of Jesus in the word of God and the Eucharist with faith, surely salvation is ours. We will reach our heavenly destination.
Child of God, those who followed Jesus in the Gospel asked him, "what must we do, to be doing the work of God?" Jesus told them to believe in the One who sent Him. This question is what we should ask ourselves everyday. Paul answered this question in the second reading. He said, our life must reflect the food of life that we eat. We must not work as Gentiles or Pegans. We have to put off the old self that is corrupt through deceitful lusts. We should be renewed in the Spirit of our minds, and put on the new man, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and Holiness. Jesus sacrificed His body for our salvation.
My beloved, we are called today to eat the bread of life which manifests in the word and in the Eucharist. Our life are also to be modified according to this body of Jesus. We are called into the life of sanctity. Our life are to be renewed and modelled after the heavenly bread that we eat. Let us follow Jesus with faith. Either Jesus or nothing. Jesus is our all.
Happy Sunday to you.
Fr Emmanuel Uchechukwu Muodebelu C.S.Sp.