May 25, 2008

Reading 1 (Dt 8:2-3, 14b-16a)

Moses said to the people: "Remember how for forty years now the LORD, your God,
has directed all your journeying in the desert, so as to test you by affliction and find out whether or not it was your intention to keep his commandments. He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger,
and then fed you with manna, a food unknown to you and your fathers, in order to show you that not by bread alone does one live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD.
"Do not forget the LORD, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery;
who guided you through the vast and terrible desert with its saraph serpents and scorpions,
its parched and waterless ground; who brought forth water for you from the flinty rock
and fed you in the desert with manna, a food unknown to your fathers."

Responsorial Psalm (Ps 147:12-13, 14-15, 19-20)

R. (12) Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.

Glorify the LORD, O Jerusalem;
praise your God, O Zion.
For he has strengthened the bars of your gates;
he has blessed your children within you.

He has granted peace in your borders;
with the best of wheat he fills you.
He sends forth his command to the earth;
swiftly runs his word!

He has proclaimed his word to Jacob,
his statutes and his ordinances to Israel.
He has not done thus for any other nation;
his ordinances he has not made known to them. Alleluia.

Reading II (1 Cor 10:16-17)

Brothers and sisters: The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?
The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?
Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.

Gospel (Jn 6:51-58)

Jesus said to the Jewish crowds: "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."
The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life,
and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.
This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died,
whoever eats this bread will live forever."


There is so much hunger all around us these days. We hunger for almost anything. The country is hungry for foreign investors. With globalization in place, and tough competition from huge economies like China, manufacturing and production gradually shrivel up in this country of ours that is fast becoming a consuming, and a non producing society. With the undeniable food insecurity gripping the whole world (not only the Philippines), we witness long lines of people waiting to buy cheaper food – if not riots elsewhere in more unfortunate poorer countries. But there are other levels of hunger that emerge with postmodernity. Entire families now seemingly cannot get enough of the popular telenovelas. Like food, soap operas form part of the daily fare of so many, young and old alike, apparently everywhere in the world. No wonder their major producers, the major TV networks, are now actually exporting our home-grown soap operas back to where they sprouted – Mexico, and beyond, - even to Malaysia and Indonesia. Young people crave for more: more action, more adventure, more speed, more power. The much publicized coming back of the movie E.T four years ago, a 24 year-old classic, failed to attract the fancy of the young. It was too laid back, too staid, too static in comparison to the fast-clipped action of the likes of Spiderman, Star Wars, - even Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings! Happily, too, covenanted communities and charismatic groups, mostly led by lay women and men, hanker for solid food from their pastors and ministers. They hunger for solid teachings from the Church. They look for sure guidance from their pastors and not watered down pronouncements from their leaders.

The search for the more, the better, the deeper, the greater – they all point to the same basic hunger we all have. As humans, we all long for the ultimate; we all are drawn towards what philosophers call perfection.

Hunger figures in prominently in our readings today. It is just as well, for the very same readings speak of a satisfaction of that hunger. But lest we get mired and lost in the idea of being satisfied, the same readings admonish us to REMEMBER!

REMEMBER! How easy it is for us to forget. When, in the midst of plenty, surrounded as we are by a plethora of just about anything, by a surfeit of all that appears to fulfill us, we are told to REMEMBER!

Allow me for a while to do some remembering… As a child, I grew up with two strong- willed grandmothers from both sides who had pretty vivid memories. They lived the horrors of the second world war. And the memories of the unpleasant experience stuck in their minds irreversibly. How the two of them, at times almost in unison, would remind us when we wasted food or other stuff, or when we did not appreciate what we had at the moment, to remember that there could be a time when what we have might not be there at all, when everything we took for granted would all suddenly be gone. They remembered…and were wiser for the vivid memories of want and privation they had to undergo.

“Remember how for forty years now the Lord, your God, has directed all your journeying in the desert…remember, the Lord, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt…who brought forth water for you …and fed you in the desert with manna, a food unknown to your fathers.” It is good for us to remember. We ought to remember that behind all that hunger we are experiencing, behind all that want, all that longing, that drives us towards the more, the better, the higher and the ultimate, is a real longing for that which no creature and material goods on earth can ever satisfy. It is good for us to remember that it was God who planted that deep, basic desire in our hearts, the same One who took steps to satisfy it fully, like no other can do.

The Gospel passage today reminds us how Jesus took pains to feed the crowds. Using concrete experience, making use of material bread to satisfy the hungry populace, Jesus then leads them to higher plane. He speaks of food which satisfies fully. He declares himself the bread come down from heaven. He is the living bread and anyone who partakes of it shall have eternal life. In effect, Jesus reminds them of the real hunger they have. Their physical hunger is not half as bad as their real, deeper hunger which cannot be satisfied by material food alone.

It is good for us to remember that, in the midst of so much, or in the midst of so little or nothing, the only real famine that matters, that needs to be attended to is that about which the prophet Amos spoke of: “Yes, days are coming when I will send famine upon the land: not a famine of bread, or thirst for water, but for hearing the word of the Lord.” (Amos 8:11)

Today, as we celebrate the Solemnity of the Sacred Body and Blood of the Lord, it would do us good to remember how the Lord answers for the basic and deep hunger that is in us. He offers himself to us as food. We who hunger and are fed are blessed twice over. “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst…for they shall be satisfied.” Later in this mass, we will be declared blessed yet one more time: “This is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. Happy (blessed) are those who are called to receive him.” Those who are invited to take part in his supper are those who acknowledge they need the Lord. They profess their hunger for Him and His righteousness and justice. Those who hunger for him are those to whom the Lord directs His solicitude and love: “My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, because…they have nothing to eat.” And those who accept their need and follow the Lord in their need, shall never be sent away empty-handed. They shall be satisfied.

Whatever situation we may be in, remember. In times of plenty, remember… there is a very deep hunger in you that mere material things cannot satisfy. In times of want and privation, remember…the worst form of deprivation is to live a life without God, to live without even knowing what you are missing. In good times and in bad, remember that there is food to fortify us in the journey that is life. We know and are sure of its outcome. “He who eats this bread and drinks this cup will have life everlasting.” “Happy are we who are called to share in his meal.”

Revised May 8, 2008
Hayward, CA 94542