“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” (Genesis 2.7) From that very moment every human being has struggled to maintain a healthy balance between the needs of the body and needs of the soul. Many times, most times really, the story of human history is a story of our failing to remember this important balance. It is a story of humans placing more emphasis, sometimes the only emphasis, on the needs of the body as more important than the soul.
In today’s Gospel reading (you can read the entire passage below) our Lord says, “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life.” It isn’t that our bodies do not need physical nourishment. They do, as Christ also reminds us, “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6.26) It also does not mean that we just sit around and wait for a handout from God. The birds of the air are constantly working to find and gather their food, and God provides for them.
As human beings we tend to be anxious about everything worldly and nothing spiritually. We grab extra shifts at work to build larger bank accounts ‘for the rainy day’ while willingly going weeks without stepping foot in the Church, let alone receiving Holy Communion. But it is Holy Communion that our Lord is speaking about in today’s passage. “For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Jesus is the bread of life. Jesus is the life.
The time has come in your life that you become more focused on “the food which endures to eternal life” and less worried about your 401K or pension fund. I’m not suggesting you quit your job. Even the birds work every day. I am suggesting you stop spending all your labor on earthly things that you have no labor left for eternal things.
The Lord said to the Jews who came to him: "Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; for on him has God the Father set his seal." Then they said to him, "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?" Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent." So they said to him, "Then what sign do you do, that we may see, and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'" Jesus then said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." – John 6-27-33