Summary: The real content of hope is the immortality of the self in eternal life. Spiritual hunger is a hunger within that nothing physical will ever fill. It is a longing to be connected to our Creator.
There is a folk saying about food that we’ve all heard, “You are what you eat,” by which what is usually meant is that your body takes on the characteristics of the food you consume. In ancient times, it was basically thought of in reverse, ‘You eat what you are.” We are immortal beings. The life of God in us calls for appropriate food. The Bread of Angels has become, through transubstantiation, the food of man.
“Do not work for food that perishes,” Jesus says in our Gospel today, which conveys the notion that human beings miss the essence of life by primarily focusing on the preservation of their ego, or on solely meeting the immediate material needs of this life.
The real content of hope is the immortality of the self in eternal life. Spiritual hunger is a hunger within that nothing physical will ever fill. It is a longing to be connected to our Creator.
Professor Paul Tillich was reminding us that three fears have gripped mankind. Before the Christian era it was the fear of death. During the middle ages, it was the fear of guilt. Today, Tillich said, it is the fear of meaninglessness. The mad search for escape, for nirvana, for death itself, is the result of that fear.
As someone has said, “The echoes of a hollow life pervade our culture.”
It was to fill this emptiness, this meaninglessness, that Christ came into the world. “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst." The greatest need that each of us has is to feed on Christ.
The First Reading from Exodus 16 is complaint story about not having enough food in the wilderness. God provided manna and quail, which satisfied them for a while.
Our Gospel tell today tells us that those who are discouraged desire the food that will forever banish the hunger from the human heart.
E.g. St. Ignatius of Antioch became the third bishop of Antioch and may be considered an apostolic Father in the sense that he heard the Apostle John preach. About 110 A.D. he was sentenced to a martyr's death in the arena by the Emperor Trajan. Ignatius wrote, “I take no pleasure in corruptible food or in the delights of this life. I want the bread of God, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ,...and for drink I want his Blood which is incorruptible love.
The Eucharist is Christ given-up for us. This teaches us that one’s goal in life is no longer the preservation of the self, but the communion and service of God and neighbor. The Eucharist is also about mission; about self-florishing precisely by seeking the flourishing of other people which seems to be a sign both of happiness and a meaningful life, and eternal life through love of God and neighbor.
The Catechism says: “What material food produces in our bodily life, Holy Communion wonderfully achieves in our spiritual life, [Holy] Communion... preserves, increases, and renews the life of grace received at Baptism. 1392
The Eucharist worthily received in the state of grace increases sanctifying grace in the soul. The possession of this “God-life” of sanctifying grace in your soul is the only consideration that will be of importance at the end of your life upon earth. The degree of happiness enjoyed by each one in Heaven will depend only on the degree of sanctifying grace in the soul on entering eternity.
Personal survival, and flourishing before, during and after death requires that Living Bread that comes down from heaven