In the late 1970 and early 80's Jean and I lived in a small home in a new development. Our next door neighbors were from Romania. They were a wonderful very kind couple. They had made arrangements for some relatives to come to the USA. They finally arrived after what seemed a prolonged paperwork process. Our neighbors took their relatives shopping at the local food store. The relatives could not believe the endless supply of food---the meat department had everything imaginable-all neatly wrapped, clean and fresh. Where they came from, if they wanted meat for dinner that night they walked 2 miles each way to the market; picked out what they wanted as the meat had been slaughtered that day and hung on hooks in the open market-complete with flies enjoying the meat. Next they went to "the mall". Store after store selling basically the same thing. They were astounded. For their clothing back home the wife would buy some fabric; cut it; and hand sew their clothing. They had no electricity to have a refrigerator to keep meat fresh or to have a sewing machine.
They would talk to us in the back yard saying how amazed they were and how people never seemed happy and always wanted more-a new color-a new design-a new style. She was amazed that most people seemed to have much more than they could ever use and yet wanted more. I came away from this informal back yard discussion with the haunting question: what will quench your appetite? What will meet your needs? When do you have enough stuff?
Some people seem to be looking for that which is missing in their life. Jesus tells us today that He is the Bread of Life. Dutch Theologian Willem Visser
t' Hooft tells us, "Christianity is the action of one beggar who has found bread telling other beggars where they may also find bread."
Some people seem to spend a great deal of time looking for what will satisfy them only to come up empty handed. It reminds me of a line in the song: "Looking for love in all the wrong places". Nothing at the food store or the mall will satisfy your basic need to find love, wholeness, compassion, unquestioned completeness. Jesus tells us "I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world."
Fellow beggars---we are cared for by God who, as any loving parent will do, has provided us with what we need in this life and life in eternity. As we believe at Jesus Our Shepherd, all of us are on our own spiritual journey. We all need the Bread of Life to fill our souls and nourish our spirits. Once we have found the Bread of Life we need to tell the other beggars where they also can find this food for their journey.
As for our physical nourishment---we are what we eat. In our spiritual life by eating the Bread of Life in Eucharist we also become what we eat-we become the Body of Christ. When we accept Jesus as the bread of our life our appetite will be satisfied. When we understand that we each and collectively are the body of Christ our appetite will be satisfied. Meister Echart tells us in his book, "The way of Paradox: Spiritual Life as taught by Meister Eckhart"-"God can not be found or grasped in the external world,
but only in the inner world. If we seek him outside, we shall find him no where; if we seek him within, we shall find him everywhere---Having
discovered God within we can discover God without: but never the other way around."
Being the Body of Christ, nourished by the same Bread of Life, we can and must reach out to all. We understand we are all beggars looking for the same bread. There is only one source for the Bread of Life.
Like Elijah in our first reading when life seems wearisome we must go on until our journey is ended. Elijah prayed for death saying, "This is enough, Lord". But the angel provided him food to continue. Two weeks before Jean died her prayer was, "It is time" and "Take me quickly". We had a home Mass; Jean received the Bread of Life-a small piece of the host and sip of wine. Jean received communion for the last time in her 69 years of life. Jean had once again the realization that Jesus was the Bread of Life and she continued on to the end when Jesus and the angels came to take her home.
Come to the table---receive the Bread of Life---share the Bread of Life with everyone. Realize that you are the Body of Christ. Celebrate the God within each person God sends into your life.