In today’s Second Reading Paul reminds us that when we become believers in Christ we can no longer live to same way. In today’s Gospel we see Jesus extending that invitation to the crowds for whom he had just multiplied the loaves and fishes, but yet they were still seeking a sign like the one recalled in today’s First Reading. The Israelites wanted their bellies filled, and complained, and were even willing to return to slavery just to have a full stomach. The people who sought Jesus in today’s Gospel still want nothing more than a full stomach, but Our Lord is trying to help them see what they really crave is what that full stomach gives them: life, not just for a few decades, but for eternity.
As Jesus reminds them, full stomachs didn’t enable those Israelites under Moses to live forever, even though the Lord provided them with manna to eat. Our Lord wasn’t just speaking metaphorically when he said he was the bread of life: every time we receive the Eucharist we know that he is the Bread of Life, and we know that one day that we’ll never need to fear dying of hunger or anything else ever again. Like the Israelites in the First Reading the people were still seeking signs, but now the moment had come for faith, a faith that lead to no longer living as the Gentiles did, just focused on immediate needs and concerns of this life and not seeing the bigger picture where this life is a pilgrimage toward eternal life. The Israelites who grumbled in the desert in the First Reading didn’t live to see the promised land due to their lack of trust in God; the people in today’s Gospel are being extended an opportunity to one day enter into the true Promised Land, but they have to trust the new Moses–Jesus–to lead them.
Let’s renew our faith today in Jesus as the Bread of Life and continue our pilgrimage here on earth, knowing that nourished by this Bread we’ll one day enter the Promised Land.