……from your Pastor’s Desk
Appreciating What We Have
We all know people that are complainers. I know someone that if I said “I ‘d like to give you a hundred dollars” and handed her a Benjamin – she’d frown and say “Don’t you have 2 fifty’s ???” Well, we all do our fair share of complaining, and sometimes with good reason. We complain about the weather a great deal. How many times have I been asked ‘Is it hot enough for ya?’ Or, conversely, ‘Cold enough?’ The answers are always, ‘Yes’ and ‘No’.
We complain about all kinds of things. If we are not careful we can find ourselves complaining about nothing in particular, just complaining!
-We can easily get ourselves into a very negative frame of mind.
-We see the problems but we see nothing else.
-We fail to see the bigger picture which will nearly always have brighter shades in it.
Sadly, then, our vision can be restricted to what is wrong or missing or lacking.
What a miserable outlook on life, yet we see it all too often.
Today’s Gospel opens with the Jews complaining to each other about Jesus. As far as they were concerned, He was a problem, and they could not see beyond the problem. They had always known Him as the son of Joseph, the carpenter from Nazareth; they knew His family and His mother. Yet, here He was claiming to be the bread that came down from heaven. They were scandalized that one of their own could make such claims for himself. Their response to Jesus was to complain about him.
Complaining on its own is rarely an adequate response to anything or anyone; it is certainly not an adequate response to the person of Jesus. Jesus calls for a very different kind of response. He speaks of this response initially as coming to Him. To come to Jesus is the first step on the way to faith.
In the first chapter of John’s Gospel, when Jesus meets the disciples of John the Baptist for the first time He says to them, ‘Come and see.’ They came, they saw, and eventually they went on to believe in Him. Jesus’s call to come to Him is given even to those who already believe. He calls those who believe to come closer to Him so as to believe more fully, more deeply. As followers of Jesus, we spend our whole lives coming to Him. We never fully arrive to Him in this life; we never fully grasp Him, either with our minds or with our hearts. This is not a bad thing. We are always on the way towards Him. No matter where we are on our faith journey, the Lord keeps calling on us to come.
Jesus declares in the Gospel that nobody can come to Him unless drawn by the Father. We cannot come to Jesus on our own; we need God’s help. The good news is that God the Father is always drawing us to the Son. When Jesus says to us, ‘Come’, we are not just left to our own devices at that point. There is always more going on in our relationship with Jesus than just our own human efforts. That should give us great encouragement because we know from our experience that our own efforts can fail us in the area of our faith as in other areas. God the Father will be working in our lives helping us to come to the Son; God will draw us to Jesus.
The language of the Gospel is very graphic. Jesus speaks of Himself as the bread that comes down from heaven and calls on us to eat this bread. When we hear that kind of language we probably think instinctively of the Eucharist.
Yet, it might be better not to jump to the Eucharist too quickly.
The Lord invites us come to Him and to feed on His presence, and in particular to feed on His Word. In the Jewish Scriptures bread is often a symbol of the Word of God. We may be familiar with the quotation from the Jewish Scriptures, ‘we do not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’
We need physical bread, but we also need the spiritual bread of God’s word.
We come to Jesus to be nourished by His Word. The food of His Word will sustain us on our journey through life, just as, in the first reading, the baked scones sustained Elijah, until he reached his destination, the mountain of God.
When we keep coming to Jesus and feeding on His Word, that Word will shape our lives. It empowers us to live the kind of life that Saint Paul puts before us in the second reading, a life of love essentially, a life in which we love one another as Christ loved us, forgive one another as readily as God forgives us.
That, in essence, is our baptismal calling.
And that, in essence is nothing to complain about.