by Sister Ann Rehrauer
During the next four weeks we'll hear readings from chapter 6 of St. John's Gospel that teach us about the Eucharist. This week's reading from Exodus tells the story of manna in the desert. Although it seemed pretty monotonous (especially after 40 years), and only enough was given for each day, that "daily bread" was a sign of God's love and providence. And even if it wasn't too exciting, it kept the Israelites alive.
Jesus referred to that experience as he described himself as the "bread of life" sent by God. People came to him because he had fed the huge crowd with just a bit of bread and fish. Jesus used that sign to attract people and to teach the deeper lesson about himself as "food for the life of the world."
Most of us have three meals a day. Sometimes we feel hungry (as the stomach growls or our spirit groans), and other times we don't even notice. We get so caught up in what we are doing that we forget to stop for food. The same happens in our spiritual life. We spend so much time and attention caring for family, making a living, helping others, or providing for the future that we don't even notice that our spirits need feeding. And Jesus is the only one who can fully satisfy those hungers within us.
Each Sunday we are invited to come and eat. And like the people of Israel, we respond in different ways. Sometimes we come to Mass to praise and thank God for the many gifts we have received. When we experience blessings, we need to say "thank you."
At other times, we come to ask for what we need. And that's a good thing. A prayer of petition isn't selfish -- it's really an expression of trust -- for we wouldn't ask if we didn't believe that God loves us enough to respond.
Or we may come to Mass because we need the support of others -- because we find it difficult to pray or even to care. In challenging times, or when we don't feel much of anything, the prayer and presence of others who pray and believe can help us.
Jesus promises: "whoever comes to me will never hunger, and who believes in me will never thirst."
This week, maybe we can pay attention to that one-hour "fast" we keep before Mass, and use that "hunger" as a reminder to ask Jesus to feed the deepest hungers within us -- even if we can't put a specific name on what we need.
Thank you Sr. Ann. How very perceptive. I plan to read this at our next SVDP meeting.
Ann, you say so much in such few words. You, the liturgist, reflect your own human experiences. Thanks for your authenticity.