Strength of Faith

The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ So Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.’

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.

Over these past few weeks, in John’s gospel account, we see a steady progression from a feeding with the day’s bread as Jesus multiplies and distributes it, to a teaching on the true meaning of our daily bread, an everlasting feeding with the bread that came down from heaven.

See the change in tone from the day’s bread to our daily bread. See the power of the food Jesus provides – a food that does not perish or waste, a food so abundant that no one who wants it will go hungry. A food so powerful it gives us life.

A day’s bread, the stuff we put on our tables, the ordinary food needed for life will sustain us for a period. Our daily bread however is all that comes forth from God, and most particularly He Who came forth from the Father, Jesus, the Son of God. It has eternal power and life in it.

Who doesn’t love a banquet invitation? We get them for weddings, anniversaries, our parish centennial, and special birthdays. We send our RSVP in the mail and make our food choices. We anticipate the celebration and the exquisite hors d’oeuvres and main course. We go to celebrate and receive a portion of the day’s bread. I’ve eaten great bread of the day and I’ve had some doozy rubber chickens at banquets. Funny how I can remember the bad day’s food so clearly. Better that I remember the great food here at the Lord’s table. Here I have life.

Proverbs tells us that God has prepared a banquet and in Jesus that is true. He is the banquet. What He feeds us on is certainly the Holy Eucharist, the flesh and blood we eat and drink in communion, but not just limited to that. That would make His bread too small. His daily bread is the complete food we need. It is His complete self – flesh, blood, words, teaching, and way of living.

Jesus echoes Proverbs when He invites us to RSVP and show up for His daily bread. Answering yes on the RSVP and showing up has broad consequences for our whole lives. Those who accept the invitation must eat and drink of the entire daily bread, thereby choosing to “live.” We chose to live now and eternally by walking the gospel path in strength of faith.

In the Our Father we ask for our daily bread. The Father gives us Jesus, the perfect daily bread. As we partake of Jesus, Who gives us true life, let us open ourselves to share Him with a world that is so very hungry for life. As Jesus withheld nothing, so let our faith be so strong we never hesitate to proclaim and share Jesus – our daily bread.

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.