Very often in our lives, God lets us pursue our own idols that can’t satisfy us, until we really hunger for the true food. After having exhausted all the substitutes for Him, we really crave for something more substantial. That is what is happening in the first reading. The people, led by Moses through a 40-year journey across the desert, felt exhausted, famished, weak and angry at God. They felt abandoned, betrayed by God. Moses tells them what God was trying to teach in Deuteronomy 8:3. “He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna… in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”
Jesus himself had to go through a similar trial in order to gain for us the bread of life. Jesus was famished after 40 days and 40 nights of fasting. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread” (Matthew 4:3), and Jesus answered by quoting today’s reading of Exodus 8, verse 3, “One does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God”. Isn’t it amazing that Jesus who is the Word Incarnate himself would only feed by the words coming from the mouth of the Father? Jesus will not use his own powers to feed himself unless the Father allows him to do so. Even though he was the Son of God, he had to be perfected by suffering and obedience.
How much more ourselves! We cannot break free of our sinful addictions unless we are fed by the Word of God.
But there is more to it. We cannot get free simply by imitating Jesus and putting his teachings into practice. That is what the disciples of Buddha are trying to do, as well as the disciples of the Dalai Lama. These practices can better their lives but they do not give them life eternal. Our situation as Christians is different. For us, the source of eternal life here and after death is Jesus Christ, true God and true man. We get the Bread of Life by taking Jesus into us and we into Jesus. In the second reading today, Paul said, “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the Blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the Body of Christ?” (1 Corinthians 10:16). And Jesus could not be clearer in today’s Gospel. “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever; … Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you… Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the Living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me” (John 6:51, 53, 56-57)
But how can flesh, even the flesh of Christ, give us eternal life? How can eating the flesh give us spiritual life, a life in the likeness of the Father? The answer is simple: the Body and Blood of Jesus are not from his dead body, but from His Risen Body. That Body has been transfigured, suffused by the Spirit. That Body that appeared to the apostles for forty days, that rose from the dead at Easter and ascended to the Father, is interceding for us seated at the Father’s right hand. When we eat this Body sacramentally in the Consecrated Host at the Eucharistic Communion, we receive Christ in his human and divine natures. We receive his Risen Body, united with his Divine Person; we receive the Son, and the Spirit, and the Father. Therefore, They abide in us as we abide in Them, and we are transformed in God’s likeness.
God bless you,