Sunday, August 05, 2012
I think there are at least three ways to understand this passage. Perhaps we could call these the natural, sacramental, and supernatural meanings of the passage.
Regarding the needs of this world, the natural meaning of the passage, we believe that God can and does provide for His children. “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Mt 7:11). “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Mt 6:26). “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' ... But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well” (Mt 6:31, 33). God will give us what we need.
From a sacramental point of view, could this not also be a reference to the Eucharist? We are in John 6 after all! We’re building up to the “hard sayings” of Jesus, through which He tells the crowd that His flesh is food indeed and His blood is drink indeed. So, when we read in vs. 35 of coming to Jesus and never growing hungry or thirsty, we should see here that Jesus is beginning to outline his intention for giving us the Eucharist. He wants to feed us and sustain us with it, both physically and spiritually. Jesus taught us to pray for “our daily bread.” This is it, folks.
Finally, there is a supernatural meaning to Jesus’ words. We could also call this the eschatological meaning, since it very much concerns the end times. We are all well aware of the fact that many people, even though they have come to Jesus, still grow hungry and thirsty. In this life, we get hungry, we eat, we’re not hungry anymore, but after a while we grow hungry again. It will always be this way … until Jesus comes again. On that day, everyone who is with Christ will receive a glorified, perfect, incorruptible body. On that day, there will truly be no more hunger, no more thirst, no more sickness or suffering or weakness or weariness or imperfection of any kind.
But we have to come to Jesus. Now. And we have to stay with Him. Keep on asking, seeking, knocking. Keep on praying for your daily bread. Keep on receiving the Lord in the Eucharist with a pure heart. Then, when Jesus comes again, the words that He has spoken in today’s reading will truly come alive for you.