Sunday, August 5, 2018

Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life. (Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, John 6:24-35)

The human heart is a bottomless pit. It is never satisfied. The human person is an insatiable desire for more. Nothing can ever completely satisfy him, nothing can really give him the fulfillment and happiness he ultimately desires.

Where do we find our satisfaction? In material things, in power, in fame, in beauty, in wealth? They fade, they do not last, they are here today, gone tomorrow. We cannot hold onto them forever. They will give us satisfaction—there’s no doubting that. The will give us temporary happiness; they will make us forget our troubles and worries and cares and anxieties for a while. And then they fade, and we need to search for other things to fill the void. And we feel more empty than before.

The human heart is a bottomless pit. But God perhaps made it to be so—so that he alone can fill it, because he alone is that endless satisfaction, endless fulfillment, endless happiness that our bottomless heart desires. Our hearts shall remain restless until they rest in God, said Saint Augustine.

What is that food that endures for eternal life? What is that food that lasts and does not spoil? Our values, our principles, our relationships with one another, the small joys of being parents, being sons and daughters, being brothers and sisters, being friends, having friends, helping those in need, the sick, the poor, the helpless, the lonely, the forgotten, the “least of our brothers and sisters”. These things do not have a price-tag on them, and they last.

Francis of Assisi used to remind his followers: “Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received, but only that which you have given; a full heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage.”

What food are we working for? Is it the kind that is here today and will be gone tomorrow? Is it the kind that will give us satisfaction, fulfillment, and happiness, but only for a short while—only to leave us feeling even more hungry, more empty, more unfulfilled? Or is it that kind that will give us satisfaction, fulfillment, and happiness that will last forever? Today Jesus tells us, there is only one source of this kind of eternal and everlasting satisfaction? He alone is its source. He alone can give it. He alone can fully satisfy the hunger of our hearts.

This coming Thursday, August 5th, a new batch of young men eager to follow Jesus’ invitation to seek that food that nourishes not just the body, but the soul, that lasts not for a moment, but for eternity, will enter the front gates of St. John Vianney Seminary.

Like other young men who have done so over the past 60 years, they will come seeking to be nourished, not by food that fades, but by Christ, the bread of Life. It is the hope and prayer of those of us tasked by the Church to guide, educate and form them, that they may come to know him intimately, love him more deeply and, by doing so, find that nourishment for their souls that lasts.

"The Kingdom of Heaven is a condition of the heart." (Friedrich Nietzsche)