Come To Me, Come And Eat!
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Last week Philip thought the answer to the crisis Jesus faced with feeding thousands of people was money. Andrew saw that the answer was a little boy who had his lunch and was not afraid to give it away. When you’re faced with an unsolvable problem what do you choose, what do you think of? The solution is better if we give it to the Lord.
This week Jesus seems to be saying: come to me, come and eat, don’t be silly, I’ll give you life and understanding. What we hear from John this week (6: 24-35) is a parable, a midrash, a story but not one told by Jesus. Today Jesus is the parable. Listen closely.
We find the crowds chasing after Jesus not because they believe in him but only to feed themselves and see another miracle. There was only one boat and the apostles were in it and Jesus was not. So they are curious: how did he get here? (Actually he walked across the water but there was no way he was going to tell them.) Jesus reads them easily, and tells them: you just want to see more miracles and fill your bellies! Do not work for the food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which I will give you!! He is the only one who can give you Life, real Life, eternal Life.
The crowd asks him, what can they do to see the works of God? Jesus says, “This is the work of God that you believe in the one he sent!!” The miracles don’t give faith. Jesus does them to open the ears of the people. The people keep asking for another sign so that they can believe in him. Can you do what Moses did? They want miracles and a continual supply of them. They want bread falling from heaven like Moses did. They are bored. Jesus only gave them bread last week, but they want continuous bread coming from heaven. They want a show.
Jesus says it was not Moses that gave you this bread but my Father. The manna only feeds your bodies; I want to feed your souls. The Bread that comes down from heaven (Me) is true bread. This is the bread that gives Life. It is what Moses was preparing you for. Jesus is speaking of himself.
Some Jews expected the Messiah to give manna again to the people, so they ask for it. Jesus stuns them and says, “I am the bread of life.” The “I Am” statement would remind the Jews of the name that God revealed to Moses in the desert: I Am Who Am, I am the One who Is, the One who Acts. Usually this statement is followed by a parable but here it is not a parable in words, but a living parable: Christ gives himself as the true Bread of Life. It is not a story but an action. It is the same action that continues today, each time a Mass is celebrated.
“Come to me,” Jesus says. You who need instruction, you who don’t understand your life or your sufferings, come to me! Why do you admit your lack of these things and leave your great thirst unslaked? Come to me! Venite ad me! Buy without money, bend your neck a bit to the yoke and accept discipline and see for yourself how little you need to work and what peace you will find. Come to me!!
The Pharisees have 613 commandments that with infinitesimal detail they try to please God. They thought that they had self-made wisdom, but it was only legalism. Christ is Wisdom for us, says St. Paul. What God puts into us is far more important that what comes out of us. When will we learn this? He put a new song into my mouth.
‘Come to me’ is an invitation. It has to be. It is something I can only respond to with freedom, not with pressure or coercion. He wants nothing from you. He yearns to give himself to you with the passion of a lover. He wants nothing from you, except yourself. When we believe truly in Him we no longer search for anything else. He is the One who fills us, who makes us whole, and nothing else matters.
Jesus Christ is the living Torah, the Law. He alone knows the secrets of God and he came to reveal them. He is the living Bread, if only you would come to him. Whoever goes to him will not be turned away. Seek him before it is too late.
Christ was so happy with Sister Faustina because her only desire was to please him! That was her only dream. She had only three years of education, and yet this desire to be with Christ, to go to him, to suffer for him was the driving force of her life. Jesus said there are not many people like that in the world. Let us desire to be one more who wants to do the will of the Lord.