“Work for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you” (Jn 6,27). What is it that endures into eternal life? Jesus makes it clear: “It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (Jn 6,63). After one’s death when the body is laid in the coffin, nobody will say: ‘Peter is lying in the coffin’; but people will say: “Peter’s body is lying in the coffin.’ The soul-less body is lifeless body. It is the spirit/soul in me that makes me, me. It proves what Jesus has said: “It is the spirit that gives life”.
We are created with spirit, mind and body. St.Paul tells: “May your spirit, soul (mind) and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 5,23). Our Creator God provides us with everything that is needed for us to have ‘abundant life’ (Jn. 10,10) in all these areas. “He endowed them with strength like His own….gave them dominion over beasts and birds. He gave them discretion and tongue and eyes, ears and a mind for thinking. He filled them with knowledge and understanding and showed them good and evil. He allotted to them the law of life. He established with them an eternal covenant and revealed to them his decrees. Their eyes saw His glorious majesty, and their ears heard the glory of His voice. He said to them: “Beware of all evil”. And He gave commandment to each of them concerning the neighbour…(Sir.17,3-14). “The Lord created medicines out of the earth…and He gave skill to human beings …By them the physician heals and takes away pain….” (Sir. 38.4, 6, 7).
So God our loving Father is much concerned about the welfare of our body, mind and spirit. But we tend to be taking care of our body and mind, but often we neglect the care of our spirit. Our body must be submitting to the mind, and mind to the spirit. And my spirit should be submitting to God’s Spirit and to His Word. Then only we can attain eternal life. So Jesus said: “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Mt. 4,4). The Word of God is the food for my spirit. Nourishing my spirit everyday with this food helps me to have His life in me.
“Do not work for the food that perishes” (Jn.6,27). Jesus echoes the question posed by Prophet Isaiah: “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread and your labour for that which does not satisfy” (Is. 55,2)? We satisfy our physical hunger by food; but our spiritual hunger (for life, for truth, for love) can be satisfied only by God. The other means which we falsely go into for our satisfaction are just like “cracked cisterns that can hold no water” (Jer. 2,13).
“Having loved his own who were in the world, He loved them to the end” (Jn. 13,1). As a beloved father who will make all arrangements in order that the life of his children be smooth going, so too Jesus at the last supper instituted the Blessed Sacrament as the nourishment for our soul: “…Take, eat; this is my body….Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of the sins”(Mt. 26,26-28). In the discourse on Bread of Life in the Gospel narrative of John (6,22-59), Jesus was foretelling about this food for our soul.
“The bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world…the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh… Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life…Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them…whoever eats me will live because of me…”
Right from the beginning, the Old Testament makes it clear that God has made a Covenant relationship with His people. And in the New Testament, Jesus seals this Covenant with His Blood, which he commanded His Apostles to continue to ‘do in His remembrance’ (Lk 22,19). “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.” (Lk 22,20; 1Cor.11,24-25)
It is abiding in His teaching that will make us His true disciples. Just believing in the Lord through our baptism is only a first step of our discipleship. “Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in Him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (Jn. 8,31-32).
The more we are united with God, the more free we can be from the hurts and pains of everyday life. May we nourish our soul through the spiritual food, which the very Author of life is giving us every day. Bodily food helps us to be alive in this world; food for our mind (knowledge, worldly wisdom, recreation with friends etc) help us to become mature and enjoy this earthly life. But it is the spiritual food that sustains and develops supernatural life in me, which alone is everlasting.
Lord Jesus we thank you for ‘renewing and strengthening our inner man nature’ (2 Cor. 4,16) through your Presence in us, through your Word and through the Holy Eucharist. Along with St. Paul we ‘pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ , the Father of glory, may give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation as we come to know Him, so that, with the eyes of our heart enlightened, we may know what is the hope to which He has called us, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power for us who believe, according to the working his great power.” (Eph 1,17-19)