Strength of Faith.
“Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”
Over the months of Ordinary Time, a time dedicated to growth, we focus on how we live out the Christian faith, how we walk in Strength of Faith. Remember, we are focusing on our Strength of Faith.
In Exodus 16 we join the children of Israel just six weeks into their wilderness journey. They witnessed the ten plagues visited on Egypt for her disobedience. They experienced the first Passover, the deliverance out of literal death and out of Egypt. They walked dry shod through parted sea. Yet now, here in the wilderness, they allowed fear and doubt take over. They grumble against Moses and through him at God. God is not a saving god; we’d rather go back to Egypt. We would rather sell ourselves back into slavery over trusting in God, over living in strength of faith.
God, in His mercy, responds to their grumbling by giving them food. If we were to read on to Exodus 17, we would find them grumbling again, this time about water. That event was at Meribah and Massah, names which mean “testing,” and “quarrelling.” The people when tested, quarreled with God.
For the people of Israel, immediate need, and in the face of that need, doubt and worry, won over strength of faith and complete reliance on God. How could one see the great works of God and doubt? How could one worry when God has them in His hand? Yet we do too.
The model for what Jesus would face is right there – the people are fed in the wilderness and yet they ask: “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do?” They saw a great work of God, yet still doubt and question. They still quarrel when tested.
God sent His Son to once and finally free us from all captivity. He gave us an eternal Passover from death. He gave us bread that lasts forever, the food of eternal life. All we need to do is “believe in the One.”
Jesus told us that He is “the bread of life;” and He added: “whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”
God knows our needs. He knows them before we even realize them. He also knows that we need a provision that is complete and whole – so in Jesus we have assurance of a life that is eternal and perfect. We who believe in strength of faith receive not only food for today, but food everlasting!
As St. Paul states, we must live and think differently, no longer in the futility of our minds. The Galileans were thinking in earthy terms when they confronted and quarreled with Jesus. Let us not sell ourselves back into slavery over trusting in God, over living in strength of faith as we continue to become new selves.