Do you ever try to remember some of your earliest childhood memories? I’m sure that we all have some childhood memories in common, such as a younger sibling being born or learning skills like riding a bike or swimming. Those are some of my fondest early memories.

However, I have another early memory that left me quite confused. I was playing at a park near my childhood home in Mount Prospect and had a conversation with a neighbor lady who told me in no uncertain terms that there is nothing free in the world—in a sense, she was saying that there are no free lunches. No matter how much I disagreed with her, she remained adamant!

This conversation is one I have remembered throughout my adult life. Could it be true that there are no free lunches in life? Is it possible that everything we receive has a price attached to it in one way or another? I pondered these questions as I read the first reading from Exodus. God fed the Israelites quail and manna in the desert, and Jesus fed the 5,000 on the hillside outside of Jerusalem. How else could these events be described other than a free lunch? They were gifts given by God to His people with no cost attached to them.

Bread of Life

“When we come to Jesus and place our trust in Him, He not only cares for us, heals us, and forgives us, but also feeds our deepest hungers and desires.”

In this month’s first Gospel, the people had just been fed by Jesus, and they all ate until they were full. Jesus leaves these people to continue to proclaim the Good News, but as He disembarked from the boat this group has gathered once again—not just to hear Jesus preach but also to be fed.

Jesus says to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled.”

This encounter was an opportunity for Jesus to teach these people. He invites them to see Him, as well as God’s love for them, from a new perspective. He invites the people, as He invites us, to seek food that will give everlasting life. The people hear Jesus and ask for this kind of bread. Then Jesus says something very profound. “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

Jesus truly is the bread of life! When we come to Jesus and place our trust in Him, He not only cares for us, heals us, and forgives us, but also feeds our deepest hungers and desires. With Jesus, we have all that we need and more.

Upon reflection, perhaps my neighbor was right so many years ago. Everything in life may indeed have a price attached to it. Maybe there are no free lunches. When God fed the Israelites, he did ask for something in return. Jesus in John’s Gospel also asked for something in return for feeding us each time we come to Him in the Eucharist. But the price is small, and the benefits are great! All Christ asks of each of us is our faithfulness, our gratitude, and our willingness to do unto others as He has done for each of us.

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