Don't work for food that perishes

When Jesus was revealing to his disciples that he is the Bread that gives us life, he said this profound thing:

Do not work for food that perishes
but for the food that endures for eternal life,
which the Son of Man will give you.
[John 6:27]

It is a great Easter reflection to ask ourselves, in what ways do I work for food that perishes? We can ask about this phrase in many ways. We can simply ask, What am I working for? Does it result in any kind of lasting food for me? Do I find myself working hard for elusive and unattainable goals? Am I trying buy or attain happiness with consumption which can never really satisfy me? Am I addicted to patterns and a way of life that is taking away my happiness? Is what I have really very satisfying? Do I want even more in hopes that more will make me happy?

Jesus wants us to know that he is the Bread that gives life. When some of his listeners walked away, saying that this bread he was offering them was "hard to swallow," they returned to their former way of life and no longer followed him. Jesus asked his disciples if they were going to walk away, too. Peter answered, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” [John 6:68-69]

Jesus tells us that if we come to him, we'll never hunger or thirst again. He urges us to "feed" on him. The image is that of sheep who graze on a pasture. He is inviting us to allow him to be what nourishes and sustains us.

Too often we can try to have it both ways. We want to be connected with Jesus and we also want a steady diet of the things of this world. Jesus is the only food which will really satisfy us. He knows that we can live in this world, have a job in this world, support our families in this world, and do all the many non-sinful things we do in this world, as long as those things don't become what we really work for and look to sustain our hearts and souls. Jesus alone can be a life giving and sustaining source of our identity and our nourishment. He offers us the "food that endures for eternal life."

Let's ask for this renewed hunger to be nourish by Jesus, to be in communion with him. From that grace will come the deep and lasting desire to gratefully share what we have received. The one who is bread broken and given for us will help us be bread which is broken and given for others who need us.

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