Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." John 6:35
Jesus’ words ring pretty clearly, don’t they: come to me, all who are carrying heavy burdens, all who need rest from this weary world, anyone who is seeking something more, something else, some alternative to the life as the world presents it to us – I am the living bread that fills. The people in John’s Gospel were all eager for “signs” that Jesus was the Messiah. Yet, Jesus makes a much bolder claim: that He has the power and the authority to overturn the world’s darkness and bring light to that darkness. Yes, we have physical needs and, at this time of Thanksgiving, need to be mindful of those who are in desperate need around the world. As we sit down for Thanksgiving lunch/dinner, we should not only pray for those who are struggling with food shortage and hunger but make a pledge, this year, to become actively involved in alleviating world hunger.
Jesus understands that hunger and poverty, however, are not problems likely to be overturned by human endeavor alone and that a larger void exists for many that goes far beyond any physical hunger or desire. If you have never worshipped with truly poor folks, then you may not have a vision of what Jesus is talking about. Christianity is growing in places like Africa and Asia, parts of the world where deprivation (in the areas of food, freedom) is common place. Why? Because folks who have little materially understand that their hunger, physical or otherwise, is only part of what they might be missing. People of poverty (as they did in Jesus’ day) understand – in a way that folks in the West struggle to - that Jesus offers something that we all need: a sense of belonging and a pathway to experiencing the love of our Creator that is freeing, filled with hope and possibility, and offered to all. When one truly falls into the reality of Christ’s saving love, they begin to understand what being filled means. Knowing and coming to Jesus does not free one from physical hunger or us from the obligation and Christian duty to help those who are in physical want. But eating of the “bread of life” that is Jesus Christ satisfies our hunger for the deepest need of all: love, giving it and receiving it, through and in Jesus. Happy and a most blessed Thanksgiving!