Christ is risen!
It seems there isn’t a day goes by when a new “warning” about the “dangers” of something we’ve been eating for centuries crops up to grab our attention. Funny, I don’t remember all these peanut allergies when I was a kid!
Now, don’t get me wrong; I don’t doubt that there are some real situations where allergies, reactions, and medical realities lead some to radically modify their diet and their environment to protect themselves from severe reactions. But it does seem that there are times when I get the distinct impression that some scientist somewhere is desperate to justify their grant proposal! All the while, in just a few years down the road we suddenly “discover” that this or that element wasn’t as bad as we thought it was!
In ancient societies, for instance, salt was so valuable it was used as currency in some places, and bread, well bread WAS LIFE. No wonder, in the Old Testament, God fed the Israelites “bread from heaven” called manna (This literally means “what is it?”). And in the New Testament, Jesus makes it clear HE is the Bread from heaven sent to satisfy our deepest hunger.
Look at our Gospel Lesson for today:
The Lord said to the Jews who believed in him: “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me; and this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day.” John 6:35-39
This emphasis the Lord uses is in the context of the Jews confronting the Lord to give them a “sign” like their forefathers saw in the wilderness when God fed them with this miraculous “bread” from heaven. Of course, these Jews conveniently forgot that their forefathers, even though they saw this miracle, still came up doubting when it came time to enter the promised land. So, wonderful “signs” only serve to reveal faithless hearts rather than actually convince folks to change their ways. But the Lord made it plain to these Jews that He, Himself, is the bread the Father has sent as the last “food” we humans would ever need!
But before we humans can “enjoy” this Bread, we have to admit we are hungry. We have to, in humility, abandon the notion that we are self sufficient. We have to confess not only our hunger, but our inability to actually satisfy this hunger on our own. This is hard for us to do since we struggle daily with the prideful notion we are “able” to take care of ourselves. This goes to the very heart of our deepest spiritual blindness to our true hunger. We medicate this hunger in our souls with all kinds of “lesser foods” that do nothing but mask our hunger and leave us unsatisfied and looking for “more.” No wonder we struggle with desires we don’t know how to satisfy! I can already feel the frustration bubbling up in my heart!
Next, we have to come to the end of ourselves and confess our need for Christ, the Bread of heaven. He is the only “food” that will satisfy our deepest hunger. It isn’t a mistake that the imagery of Bread is used now instead of a “bloody sacrifice.” The violence used to illustrate the ugliness of sin and death has now been completed by Christ becoming the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world and His sacrifice means now all we need is to embrace Him and hear the invitation from His Church “With the fear of God, and with faith and love, draw near!”
Today, what lesser “foods” are you consuming, trying to satisfy this hunger in your soul? Where do you finally need to confess you simply can’t satisfy this deepest hunger on your own? The Faith once, for all, delivered to the Saints waits with a spiritual banquet of wisdom, insight, and satisfying nourishment all coming from Him Who is the Bread of heaven. And all you have to do is have the humility to come and see. All you need is the courage to be Orthodox on Purpose!