Detailed Homily for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Theme: SCAMPERING FOR THE IMPERISHABLE MEAL
By: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka
Homily for Sunday August 1 2021
R1 – Ex 16:2-4,12-15
R2 – Eph 4:17,20-24
GOSPEL – John 6:24-35
A certain man wanted to test his son’s drives and sense of preference between worldly tastes and heavenly values. He brought out a brand new Bible, and placed it side by side with a wrap of #1000 notes (#100,000). The said man asked his 7 year old son, Junior, to make a choice. Junior, looked at his father like someone running crazy, and without delay picked up the the wrap of #1000 notes (#100,000). The disappointed father stood aghast and inquired why the son preferred money to the Bible – Eternal Word of God. The “wise” Junior retorted, “Daddy, who bible epp (help) before? Let me tell you, with this money I can buy more bibles, but the bible cannot guarantee the physical worth and value of this money. Ego amaka! (thinking in his mind) I now understand why my Daddy is very poor.”
Beloved in Christ, the readings of this Sunday’s liturgy are more like a wakeup call to all and sundry, that Our lives and satisfactions are not solely dependent and dictated only on material things but, more on the spiritual and imperishable. We should be more deeply concerned with spiritual food than with physical food and to get our spiritual food regularly from the word of God and from the Holy Eucharist.
Many Children of God have been grossly swallowed up by the pursuit of material gain at the expense of the imperishable and spiritual. Like the little Junior in the introit story, we have on several occasions abandoned God and his ever nourishing spiritual and imperishable food at the table of the word and the Eucharist; making perishable and finite choices that lead to doom.
According to Psychologists, there are three levels of human nature.
First, as physical creatures, we have the yearnings for sensual satisfactions and gratifications, like eating, drinking, sex, etc., which need to be satisfied. That is why we hunger for hundred of things; physical hunger which only food can satisfy. You cannot reason out with a hungry belly, for it has no ears and a hungry man is an angry man. Remember how the Israelites murmured against God and preferred to remain slaves in Egypt because of hunger.
Second, we are psychological beings, capable of using our minds, feelings and imagination. Our motivations are the need for love, self-respect, fame and esteem. That is why we hunger for feelings of importance. We hunger for relationships, for without them we are like a lone tree on the top of the hill at the mercy of every wind that blows.
Thirdly, We are also spiritual beings, having souls, hungering for beauty, truth, wisdom, and most importantly, eternal fulfillment.
So the spiritual hunger is one that underlies all our other hungers, and that is the hunger for the bread of eternal life, which is the hunger for God.
However, we often realize that, like Junior in the introit story, we pay much attention to the yearnings and longings for physical and psychological satisfaction and often pay least attention to the primordial longing that constitute our essence and final destination as spiritual, beings created “Imago Dei” (Image and likeness of God). That is why, Jesus admonishes us today: “Don’t work for the food that perishes but work for the food of eternal life,” owing to the reality that only God can satisfy the various forms of our spiritual hunger.
Today’s First Reading from the Book of Exodus tells us about the bread from heaven given to the Israelites by God when they were in the desert. God had miraculously brought them out of the land of Egypt liberating them from slavery but they were unable to place their full trust in the leaders God had given them. For them, it was the perfect food for the journey – viaticum (a-go-with).
In the Gospel, Jesus read the mind of the people following him. He had performed the miracle of multiplication of bread and fish out of necessity. However, like the Israelites, his followers become obsessed with food. They were carried away by physical hunger. They came to search for their daily bread but, failed to recognize that Christ was the bread of life.
*SCAMPERING FOR THE IMPERISHABLES*
The primordial question raised by our Penny Catechism: “Maka gini ka Chukwu jiri kee anyi?” ( Why did God create us?); describes man’s ultimate goal and end as that which is deeply spiritual: “God created us to know him, love him, serve him and eternally be with him in heaven.” It didn’t say, “to make money, build mansions, ride cars, fly jets, etc.
The above answer points to the imperisheability of human soul and it’s relentless longing for God where it finds solace as captured in the Confessions of _St. Augustine_ who said: “O God, You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You” _(Confessions, I, 1.)._
_Augustine_ , at a youthful age had no regard for spiritual satisfaction and never vied to satisfy his spiritual hunger. He trolled with bodily and sensual pleasures and intellectuality; reckless with women and had zero knowledge of Eternal Wisdom and goal, until he was struck and allowed to partake from the table of the word and then, the Eucharist. Little wonder, the Psalmist says, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God” (Ps 42:1).
(1) *PAY MORE ATTENTION TO YOUR SPIRITUAL LIFE*
One important lesson for us today is that when we pay too much attention to material things, we forfeit the spiritual meaning of life. So, our relationship with God and, indeed with others must not be based solely on how much material things we are able to get from them.
Many of us are like Esau, who sold his birth right for a plate of porridge (Gen 23, 29-34). Many have Forfeited their inheritance at God’s right hand as true heirs of God’s Kingdom in pursuit of wealth, positions, promotions and appointments.
(2) *ALWAYS VIE TO BE NOURISHED FROM THE TABLE OF THE WORD AND EUCHARIST*
At the Holy Mass, Jesus offers us two types of bread: the Bread of Life, contained in God’s Word (Liturgy of the Word) and the Bread of Life, contained in the Holy Eucharist (Liturgy of the Eucharist). The Nourishment of our souls with this Heavenly Manna enables us to carry Jesus to our homes and workplaces, radiating Jesus’ love, mercy and compassion all around us. When we go late to Mass without partaking from the table of word, we starve ourselves too from the imperishable dish of the word.
Finally, Steve Jobs, was a 56 year old Billionaire and CEO of Apple iPhone products. He had all the world could afford and enjoyed the world to the fullest. There is nothing money can afford that eluded him. He built a business empire that make people to still refer to him as an epitome of success in Business world. However, at a point in his life, when struck with an incurable disease, he realized that life worths more than physical and psychological bargains. Right on his death bed, he emphasized the futility of worldly tastes and values at the expanse of man’s ultimate goal and destiny that are deeply spiritual in the following words: “At this moment, lying on the bed, sick and remembering all my life, I realize that all my recognition and wealth that I have is meaningless in the face of imminent death,” it goes on to say. “You can hire someone to drive a car for you, make money for you — but you can not rent someone to carry the disease for you. One can find material things, but there is one thing that can not be found when it is lost — life – eternal life.
Beloved, at the darkest night of the soul, it yearns and scampers for the imperishable – it’s spiritual goal and destiny. May we follow the admonitions of the St. Paul in the second reading to the Church in Ephesus to satisfy their spiritual hunger by turning away from their former evil ways and by leading renewed lives of love, kindness, compassion and forgiveness.
O GOD, YOU HAVE MADE US FOR YOURSELF, AND OUR HEARTS ARE RESTLESS UNTIL THEY REST IN YOU” (Confessions, I, 1.).
*GOD BLESS YOU!*
*FR GERALD MUOKA*