For human beings and indeed, for all God’s creatures, food is an absolute necessity for life. Based on my personal experience, my life could often be described as revolving around it. It’s somewhat embarrassing, but I find my mind occasionally drifting off during Mass to what I’m going to eat after the service is over. I am human, and fasting before Mass can lead to your body insisting on fulfilling its craving for earthly sustenance (not just the supreme sustenance received in communion). It has become a routine for many people to go out for a meal after Mass or any church service, particularly on Sundays. These meals are usually shared with friends and family, which adds to the satisfaction derived from them, and also, because of pre-Mass fasting, because we are extra hungry! No matter how satisfied we are after such a meal, the desire for more nourishment always returns.
God designed us to appreciate the gifts of food (and drink) but that earthly food can never replace Jesus Christ as we receive Him in the Eucharist. “One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) It may be hard to understand, but all we really require in life is Jesus and His word. In the Gospel passage, Jesus feeds the masses with only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, yet at the end of the meal, everyone is satisfied and there are leftovers! I wonder what the word “satisfied” actually means in that scripture passage. I feel it must be similar to the satisfaction I have from a meal after Mass because the meal has been blessed by God. The Lord’s blessing is crucial; the food is a gift from Him and without Him we would have nothing to sustain us. The Lord then reminds us that even without earthly food, we could survive if Jesus Christ remains in our hearts.
Throughout our daily lives, we give thanks for many blessings–family, friends, our jobs and our homes–but we can forget to give thanks for the smaller gifts we take for granted, like food. Food can seem so routine, but each bite we take is a gift from God because He knows we need it. The Lord is truly present in every breath we take in our lives, not only when we are full and content, but when we are depriving ourselves as in fasting as well. God provided manna to the Israelites when there was nothing else to eat in the desert. It is important for us to give Him thanks for everything we have to eat each day, but to also remember that Jesus Christ is our very bread of life, so what more do we need?