Homily for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
When I was a teen, I had the habit of opening the fridge and looking inside. I might do this a few times a day. My mother would finally say to me, “what are you looking for? Nothing has changed since the last time you opened that door.” I was searching for something to satisfy my hunger.
Thank God, I have never been hungry for food in my life. Once again, growing up there was always food in the fridge, cookies or cake in the pantry (homemade)… there was always something to eat. However, I realize that not everyone has been as fortunate as I have been. Unfortunately, we know that people experience severe famine all over the world. In Ethiopia there are 100,000 children starving to death due to civil unrest. However, we do not have to look very far! Hunger exists in our cities, towns and families. Especially with the ongoing increases in food prices. For people living on the streets of our city, we continue to provide soup for Avenue B. Soon, we’ll be asking for donations for the Lunch Program at HVHS… for kids who are hungry!
This is our first weekend in our “green phase” or what they’re calling “back to normal,” so to speak. I am optimistically hopeful that this phase will continue. Now that vaccinations are readily available and most people in our area have them, I believe that it is time for us to take the next step. However, we always need to be vigilant to address the various ‘hungers’ that exists among us. Look at the many people who hunger for freedom from masks and isolation-you’re being fed. Once again, it is so great to see your whole face… the full you! But at the same time, there are those among us who are still cautious and so they still hunger for safety and protection. Again, we need to show respect… that is why we left our spacing and roped off pews in place for awhile to satisfy that hunger.
There is a great hunger for people to get back to business, to return to work, to have a sensible school year and so on. And yet hunger is not just physical nor does it come from a pandemic. For example:
- We look for happiness in our lives but often misunderstand its source.
- We search for love, but often misunderstand its cost.
- Spiritually we yearn for Jesus but often do not understand where to find him, or how he nourishes us, or who He really is.
In the Gospel for today we hear how the crowd that was fed last week search for more food… even though they fail to understand that something more existed here. Jesus desires to give us ‘bread that lasts.’ and many times, we ask Him, give us this bread always.” But like those in the crowd, we do not fully understand what Jesus is actually giving us in the Eucharist. It is not just “bread,” nor that it is a mere symbol of Jesus, but rather, His very self. This gift is the work of God; our work is to receive this Gift with grateful hearts.
With all of this being said, we can ask ourselves, “how can I/we grow in our understanding of Jesus as the Bread of life? We can do this through the many times and ways that He nourishes us:
- Jesus nourishes us through those who give of themselves… for the first time in over a year and a half, now with out masks we will actually see people smile… this simple gesture can go a long way.
- If we haven’t done so… get a vaccination or encourage others to do so.
- Or being there with another who is struggling for whatever reason: for peace, journeying with the dying, supporting the ignored or offering an encouraging word or a calming presence to someone who is hurting.
- Or sitting quietly, in appreciation to God’s creation or letting the Lord speak to us in meditative prayer. These are just a few ways that Jesus nourishes us. These are ways that we receive life from another. This is Jesus Himself, “the Bread of life,” that we ultimately look for…the Bread that truly satisfies all our hunger. Amen