What is the solution to the many problems currently plaguing our world?
Newsroom (02/08/2021 20:40, Gaudium Press): The liturgy of this 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time illustrates a great obstacle faced by the Hebrew people, and one which, in a relevant way, also afflicts us in our day: “materialism.”
As the Gospel of John tells us, the Jewish people, while seeking our Lord, were greedy for earthly sustenance; earlier, their hunger had been satisfied by the multiplication of the loaves. So, following Him to the other side of the sea, they found Jesus and said to Him:
“Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you have come to Me not because you saw signs, but because you ate bread and were satisfied. Strive not for food that is perishable but for the food that endures for eternity, which the Son of Man will give you. (Jn 6:25-27)
God created man with the need to use natural means for his sustenance. However, there is a strong tendency in human nature, endowed with a material body and a spiritual soul, to give more importance to what the senses demand than to what faith presents as a solution.
For so long God has sought to lead the chosen people – a stiff-necked race – back to compliance with His commandments. However, many times that divine kindness and condescension towards His beloved ones has been repaid with the exorbitant sum of infidelities through pagan practices. The faith of their fathers – Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – no longer served as a model for these souls drawn to naturalistic enticements and worldly pomp. This explains their complaint to Moses in the first reading, (cf. Ex 16:2-4.12-15) when faced with the problem of hunger which they were beginning to experience on the journey to the Promised Land.
An analysis the of the situation of the Jewish people in the Old Testament, and later with Our Lord, might cause us to wonder: what then is the divine response to these circumstances?
The real food
To re-educate the chosen nation, God allowed them to endure countless trials – from Moses to Messianic times- by giving them abundant earthly food and sustenance as a sign of His love for them. But to test the authenticity of their reciprocal love, He deprives them of this material that satisfied them, that they might detach from this world and have their eyes fixed on “the food that lasts for eternity”, so that their faith could finally grow to greater heights.
Unfortunately, their response often left much to be desired. God’s actions show how greatly He desired them to be prepared to accept and worthily receive the Eucharist, which would be instituted at the Last Supper.
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Today, more than ever, men seem to live like the chosen people, or worse still, like the pagans: they seek only what their eyes can see and their hands can touch.
In the Second Reading, Saint Paul issues a stern warning: “Do not continue to live like the pagans, whose intelligence leads them into nothingness […]. Renouncing your past existence, put off the old man, who is corrupted by deceitful passions, and renew your spirit and your mind” (Eph 4:17, 22).
So, how do we “put off the old man”? How do we rid ourselves of sinful preoccupations, desire for more money, bad social relationships, and unwholesome pleasures?
“Whoever comes to Me will hunger no more, and whoever believes in Me will never thirst”
St Augustine, in describing his journey towards conversion, speaks beautifully to the Lord: “Late have I loved You, beauty so old and so new, late have I loved You. But behold: You were inside and I was outside. Outside I sought You and threw myself, deformed, on the beauty You made. Things kept me from You which, if they were not in You, would not be. Thou hast called and cried and broken my deafness; Thou hast sparkled and shone and cast out my blindness; Thou hast exhaled and breathed and I aspired to Thee; I have tasted and hungered and thirsted; and I burn in Thy peace.”
The solution to the problems facing the contemporary world are none other than Our Lord’s words: “Whoever comes to Me will hunger no more, and whoever believes in Me will never thirst” (Jn 6:35).
Going forward, let this be our solution, our goal!
By Guilherme Motta
Compiled by Sandra Chisholm
 Augustine of Hippo, Saint. Confessions, L. X, c. 27, n. 38. Transl. Lorenzo Mammì. São Paulo: Schwarcz, 2017, p. 199.
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Read More: Spirituality, 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Commentary on the Sunday Liturgy, MULTIPLICATION OF THE BREAD, Catholic News/Gaudium Press