‘Sir,’ they said ‘give us that bread always.’ Jesus answered: ‘I am the bread of life. The one who comes to me will never be hungry; whoever believes in me will never thirst.’  (John 6: 34-35)

The people in today’s Gospel (John :30-35) are looking for free bread, and ask for a sign like Moses had given centuries earlier to their ancestors: manna in the desert. Jesus takes it from there and invites them to recognize in him the sign by going beyond focus on physical existence to the gift of God that gives life.

If they come to him they will have their hunger satisfied. If they believe in him they will never thirst for anything less.

A theologian (Bultmann) described God’s revelation as destroying every picture that the desires of a person  invents, so that the real test of a person’s desire for salvation is to believe even when God acts in a way that is totally different from what the person expected.

St Eugene’s life was guided by his hunger and thirst to live as God wanted, as he noted in his journal in 1833:

There is no need of regrets when one has done one’s best. God makes use even of human mistakes to achieve his purpose. I do not know what he expects of me; all I know is that he governs with his wisdom those whose sole purpose is to work for his glory… If God has decided differently, he will direct events and bend the will of his creatures in such a way as to achieve his ends.

Today we desperately search for signs, yet there is only one lasting focus: “The one who comes to me will never hunger or thirst”

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    One of Eugene’s most endearing and enduring qualities was his steadfastness to God; bending his own will to the will of God. Time and time again he would surrender himself – not so much as individual events throughout his life, but rather an endless flow. Much like the rhythm of the waves of the ocean; sometimes thunderous and other times beguilingly smooth like a caress.

    Eugene, who faced many kinds of epidemics in his time – with him being in the midst of some the midst of, serving and caring-for; others where he was forced by obedience to withdraw-from and enter into a kind of silent lockdown and isolation. The latter was the case in 1833; he was seemingly silenced and abandoned by the Church and his country’s government.

    I think of the lyrics of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Gethsemane”: I’m not as sure, as when we started… then I was inspired, now, I’m sad and tired. Listen, surely I’ve exceeded expectations; tried for three years, seems like thirty. Could you ask as much from any other man?”

    Listening to these words the image of Jesus is of a man contorted in agony who in the end surrenders and agrees to die – “alright, I’ll die.” The flow of surrender has changed and deepened.

    This is how I see Eugene at this time of his life. “I do not know what he expects of me… whose sole purpose is to work for his glory”

    I think of my own hunger and thirst during this time of lockdown and isolation, fear and anxiety. I want to be with those I love, to receive the Eucharist and ‘feel’ better. I want to be out there, with those I love, able to somehow help them, journey with them in a very concrete way; to ‘be’ there for them. Much as a mother does with her child as she soothes and calms, the child, disarming and taking away the fear and struggle.

    “Come”says my Beloved. “Be still in my arms, let me hold you, let me love you. I will give you all that you need, I will make the darkness go away. I love you and you are mine.”

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