In today’s reading from the Sixth chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus tells the people that He is the Bread that has come down from heaven. And what do they do? They murmur. They would rather complain instead of listen to what he has to say. Jesus is telling them that they have nothing to complain about. He is the only One who can give eternal life to those who believe. Instead of complain, the people should realize that they are living at the center of human history. All of God’s revelation led up to Christ, the One who himself is God’s revelation. All of history, past, present and future, takes its meaning from Christ. Life without Christ is meaningless. A life with the Lord is a life worth living. Jesus is offering this life when He says “I am the bread of life,” but the people, at least many of them, would rather grumble.
In some ways, perhaps in many ways, we act the same like those ancient Israelites. We murmur. We grumble. Perhaps we grumble over our jobs, our neighbors, or about far more important aspects of our lives, your children, your spouses, our relatives. If we grumble enough, we will see negativity everywhere, including the Church or even, like the ancient Israelites, in God. We forget that we have been gifted with the Eternal Positive. The eternal Word has become one of us. He who for all eternity is in intimate union with divinity, shares His life with us. St. Paul could have had plenty of reason to grumble. He was mocked, insulted, scourged, beaten, etc. But he writes in Romans 8:18: “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.”
“But Father,” people may say, “you must admit that life has tremendous difficulties, especially at this time when so many of us are unemployed.” Or, “Father, you obviously have no idea what I have experienced. My family has put the fun in dysfunctional. My friends think I’m weird. And my feet hurt.” Yes, this is true. None of us could ever experience anything the same as another person. But let me say this, I have seen people, you people, endure the worst tragedies and still cling to your Christian optimism. I have witnessed the worst, parents losing their children, suffering in ways that cannot be imagined, and yet still keep an optimistic attitude in life. I have seen you folks at your very best when the circumstances of life could have easily thrust you into negativity. How do you do it? How do you hold on to your Christian optimism through tragedy? How have your avoided the contagion of negativity? You must have a special help, a special gift, a special grace. You must have received the food you have needed for the journey of life. Sure, life has challenges, huge challenges. All of us will be confronted with pain, fear and suffering if we are not confronted with those reminders of our humanity right now. But we have no reason to murmur, no reason to grumble, no reason to complain, no reason to be negative. There is a simple reason for our optimism. We belong to Jesus Christ and because He lives we can face tomorrow.