Reflection on the 18th Sunday of ordinary time year B

by Fr Zweli Ngwenya

Click HERE for Sunday’s Readings

First readings (Exodus 16: 2-4. 12-15)
Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 77)
Second reading (Ephisians 4:17, 20-24)
Gospel (John 6:24-35).

Brothers and sisters on this Sunday, the readings call us to look back and be grateful to God for what he has done for us and what he continues to do for us right now. In most times we focus on what we lack or what we need and we allow that to block our vision towards the work that God is doing at the moment.

The first reading, from the Book of Exodus, speaks about our ancestors in the faith. They wanted freedom. They were willing to leave Egypt for freedom. But as soon as they had freedom, they realized that the now lacked the food that they had enjoyed in Egypt! This is such a human story. When we get what we want, then we want something else. And very often we forget to enjoy what we have already.

In the gospel the crowd is depicted as searching enthusiastically for Jesus but when they find him he confronts them on their motivation, saying they must look beyond their full stomachs to see what God is saying to them through what has taken place. What God is asking of them is that they believe in the one he has sent.

To believe is not a concept, it is an activity. I, Jesus Christ, am the Bread of Life – Believing in Jesus is the equivalent of doing the work that God wants because it involves a personal relationship, an abiding in him. If you claim to believe in Christ, but are living just as you did before you believed in Him, you need to examine whether you truly believe in Him. However, the crowd don’t understand and look for a sign such as their ancestors received. The irony is that they have just such a sign in front of them but they fail to see it. Jesus tells them he is the true bread, not like the manna, but the bread of God’s word that satisfies the deepest human hunger. They are invited to nourish themselves on the bread of life, in other words to come to know and believe in Jesus.

In the second reading, Paul writes concerning our new relationship to the world in which we live. Paul describes the Christian’s relationship to the flesh, our old nature, and reminds us that in coming to believe in Christ we learned a new way of life through Him who is the truth.

The readings challenge us to a new way of seeing, thinking, and acting. We should not see Jesus as the one who only satisfies our physical needs: we go to him when we are physically hungry, when we are sick needing healing, when we are in search of riches and marriages. All these things are temporal, limited to this world. When we go to Jesus our eyes should be fixed on eternal things. Fixing our eyes on eternal things simply mean having a true personal relationship with Jesus.
Today’s readings also challenge us to consider our own lives, what we have, what we lack and what we want. Am I seriously hungry to spiritual food? Do I confuse the goods of this life with serious spiritual food? Am I willing to give up my life in order to receive bread from heaven? Am I willing to suffer in this life for the sake of true spiritual food? Am I willing to accept whatever happens in my life and seek God alone?