Jesus is food for eternal life Print E-mail
Sunday scripture column

Jem Sullivan

Sunday, August 12
Nineteenth Sunday
in Ordinary Time

1 Kgs 19:4-8
Psalm 34:2-9
Eph 4:30-5:2
Jn 6:41-51

From time to time we read or hear amazing wilderness survival stories. People who find themselves lost in the wilderness are forced to survive without food and water, sometimes for days or weeks, before they are rescued.

Survivor stories usually include the many creative and sometimes frantic ways the lost people managed to find sources of water and food. These accounts capture our imaginations as they remind us of our dependence on the forces of nature, and our primal need for water and food.

"I am the bread that came down from heaven," says Jesus in this Gospel. "I am the bread of life." We are told that that Jesus' disciples found his words difficult to understand and accept. Today we too may find Jesus' words difficult to grasp.

We think of food at least three times a day. But do we stop to reflect on our spiritual hungers, the deep hunger of our heart and will? Do we seek after spiritual food to satisfy our longing for communion with God and with one another?

Our readings invite us to make the psalmist's prayer our own. Jesus doesn't point to sources of spiritual food; he himself is the bread of life. Jesus is the spiritual food of God's love for each one of us.

In this divine food, we find our nourishment and strength for the journey of faith. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that God alone satisfies our needs.

This is a bold claim. There is nothing in this created world that can ultimately satisfy our deepest hungers, longings, and desires. Only God can.

As such, Jesus offers himself freely to us in his sacred body and blood. His spiritual food is free of cost with no strings attached.

Jem Sullivan is secretary for Catholic education of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.