A group of pilgrims arrived at their hotel inRome in the early hours of the morning, because their plane was delayed. Feeling sorry for them and wanting to get their stay off to a good start, the hotel manager provided them with Parma ham and melon for breakfast. He was dismayed when some of them sent it back to the kitchen complaining that “this bacon isn’t cooked properly”.
You could argue that whatever the manger gave them would not have been enough to assuage their annoyance at arriving late. There was just no pleasing them. Just like the Israelites in the desert. Moses and Aaron had led them to freedom from the Pharaoh and all they could do was moan about the food: it was better when they were in Egypt. So God provides them food to satisfy them: manna and quails.
Before we point the finger at other people, we could stop and ask ourselves a few questions. Are we really satisfied with our lot in life? When we moan, what’s it about? Deep down what is missing from our lives? What is the main thing that would really improve our quality of existence?
Usually people answer these questions with money. If only I had so many millions, everything would be OK. If I had a better house, could pay off the bills, have a few luxuries, then I’d be content. But we only have to look at the rich and famous to see people whose lives can be empty and shallow. Drugs and alcohol become their attempt to try and fill in the void.
Jesus told the crowd that they would always be hungry, always have that deep down empty feeling inside them, unless they ate the food of life that the Father sends. What he means is that only God can satisfy our longings and yearnings. Only he can fill that inner gap we carry round with us and make sense of why we are here on earth.
It is his teachings and our relationship with him that opens us up to the fullness of life. We may search frantically here and there for substitutes, but it is Jesus, the Word of God, who alone can satisfy our real needs. For he is the bread of life.