18th Sunday Ordinary Time
Cycle B | 05/08/18
Exod. 16: 2-4; 12-15
Eph. 4: 17; 20-24
John 6: 24-35
INTRODUCTION: Our readings today are just fantastic! They touch on themes so basic for the spiritual life. They deal on the trials and joy, the risks and dangers of spiritual transformation. According to Origen, Exodus 16 tells about each of us.
(1) The whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron: “Would we had died at the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt as we sat by our fleshpots and ate our fill of bread! But you had to lead us into this desert to make the whole community die of famine.” The Israelites were on their way to slavery of 400 years; yet within weeks they complain longing to go back to slavery. We do this all the time. The road to healing is
blocked; the way to liberation is always a long and painful one. Give concrete examples of addiction to smoking, alcohol, or drugs. Easy? No. . . in fact, one struggles into a desert! Oh, how I long to go back to the “fleshpots” of Israel. There is always a resistance to liberation. In the first Matrix Movies that shows how the world is liberated from phony world, one of those in the restaurant said as they were eating fillet minion: “I know all these is an illusion but oh how it tastes good!” Every sin is like an addiction.
(2) What does God do about the complaint of the Israelites? He gives them bread to eat. “I will now rain down bread from heaven for you. Each day the people are to go out and gather their daily portion; thus will I test them to see whether they follow my instruction or not. . .
In the evening twilight, you shall eat flesh and in the morning, you shall have your fill of bread. In the morning, a dew lay all about the camp and when the dew evaporated, there on the surface of the desert were fine flakes like hoarfrost on the ground. On seeing it, the Israelites asked, “What is this?” , and Moses told them, “This is the bread (mannahu) which the Lord has given you to eat.” That is the bread that will sustain them through their desert time in their journey towards liberation.”
(3) In the Gospel from John 6, Jesus told the Jews he just had fed, “You should not be working for perishable food but food that endures unto life eternal.” In Tolkin’s Novel Lord of the Ring, Frudo and his band were making their way to the shire facing all kinds of obstacles, someone gives them “lemda” which refers to the Eucharistic bread of angels that sustains us on our way to liberation, even as we long for the fleshpots. What is the Mass but that bread of angels that sustain us on our journey towards full liberation even if we long back for our fleshpots of the past.
CONCLUSION: Don’t waste your time on worldly sustenance; rather work for the bread of life that really matters. Our readings for this Sunday is really about the spiritual life of every single one of us sinners that long for our fleshpots of the past!
Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, DD
Bishop of Novaliches