Jesus said to the crowds, “No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. (John 6:44-51)
Jesus knew about hunger. His ministry began with hunger—he spent 40 days in the desert without food and was afterward tempted to make bread out of stones. His reply to the tempter reveals that spiritual hunger is even more essential than that of the physical sort: “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God” (Mt 4:4; Dt 8:3).
When Jesus observed that the crowds were hungry, he fed them. When he perceived that they followed him for his miraculous food, he reoriented their desire: “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life” (John 6:27). He brought them to the point that when he promised “the bread of God,” they responded, “Sir, give us this bread always” (John 6:34).
In Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict XVI describes a hierarchy of hunger originally proposed by the Jesuit Alfred Delp: “Bread is important, freedom is more important, but most important of all is unbroken fidelity and faithful adoration.”
Benedict goes on to write, “When this ordering of goods is no longer respected, the result is not justice or concern for human suffering. The result is rather ruin and destruction even of material goods themselves.”
We must be careful to discern our hungers and exercise wisdom before satisfying them. “When God is regarded as a secondary matter that can be set aside temporarily or permanently on account of more important things,” Benedict cautions, “it is precisely these supposedly more important things that come to nothing.”
In the desert of life, Jesus knew that we would get hungry. And so he left us something better than manna and more essential than bread.
May we seek the living bread from heaven in order to be truly fed; and in being fed, may we also feed others. As we are drawn by the Father, may we also draw others to the inexhaustible source of life—the Eucharist—in which Jesus himself continues to satisfy the restless hearts of this hungry world.
Prayer for Today
Ancient and holy one, you never fail to teach us through the mystery of your grace acting in our midst. You beckon all who hear your voice to go out into all the world and proclaim the good news in everything we say and do. Give your people strength and perseverance by communing with our source of life, Christ your Son. May his eternal life dwell within us and bring us at last into your peaceful presence. We ask this in your holy name. Amen.