Christ is risen!
It’s a running joke in the family: “Where do you want to go eat?” “I don’t know. Where do you want to go?” What ensues now is a comedy of conversation that sees me offer several places, all of which are rejected. So, I finally say “OK, where do you want to go? What are you hungry for?” and then I hear the answer that sends us right back to the beginning of our restaurant challenge “Wherever you want to go!” UGH! I can’t wait until we can finally have this “fight” again!
While that is a familiar family discussion, in our own lives our inability to always recognize what we are truly hungry for usually means we are grasping at anything that we think might satisfy our hungers, usually with questionable results.
Look at our lesson today in John 6:27-33:
The Lord said to the Jews who came to him: “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; for on him has God the Father set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see, and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'” Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
Our Lord Jesus is dealing with a Jewish people who think they have this whole religion thing all figured out, and that means they think they are spiritually “eating” right. But, it turns out they have a severe deficiency in their spiritual diet that is making them blind to their real hungers. It’s one thing to have a bad diet when it comes to your physical body. That bad habit only lasts until you die. But a bad spiritual diet can have eternal consequences!
They hear the Lord and they ask the right question! They want to know what they should do to be doing the works of God. They are insightful enough to know they should be God’s companions. They are educated enough to know they were created to be God’s co-workers in the world. They know all the stories of how God desires to partner with us to make us like Himself. But, they want to hear from Jesus HOW to do that. And His answer reveals a powerful shift away from what they thought religion was all about. Jesus tells them it isn’t so much about doing as being. The works of God is for them to believe in the One God sent to them! Turns out if we ever want to accomplish WHY we were created in the first place it will be by being in relationship with the One the Father sent us so that we can become like Him!
And how do we become like Him? By finally feeding the deepest and truest hunger of our lives! Jesus goes on to tell these Jews the most familiar story they all know about how God fed the escaping Jews in the desert with heavenly bread called Manna so they could survive the desert. And Jesus tells these Jews that this story was merely preparation for all of us to learn that there was going to come a Day when the Father would send the True Bread from Heaven to feed our real human hunger – to be connected to our Creator!
Today, God has given us Heavenly Food in the Bread and Wine of the Holy Eucharist to feed us where we are deeply hungry. So, it’s time to feed that part of us first so that all the other lesser hungers of our lives won’t consume us. By being Orthodox on Purpose we eat the healthy spiritual diet that leads to life eternal! And avoid the unhealthy spiritual “food” of fear and suspicion!