20TH SUNDAY ORDINARY TIME – B
Superfood for immortality, anyone?
Since time immemorial, humanity has been searching for the fountain of youth and the elixir of life. With all the problems and discomforts of old age, most of us want to stay young and beautiful. There is a longing deep within us to prolong life hence the quest for immortality.
In Roman and Greek mythology, ambrosia was the food of the gods and nectar was the drink of the gods. This mythical food and drink assured immortality for the gods. Like the ancients, food for us is not just about nourishment and survival but empowerment for life. Because of advances in science, nutrition is now enhanced with the development of genetically modified food
s that boost more
nutrients and other beneficial qualities. At the same time the market is
flooded with a whole array of different superfoods that promise longevity,
health and happiness.
When Jesus told the Israelites that he could give them food from heaven, they thought it was like ambrosia or nectar, so they said “Sir, give it to us.” But when Jesus proclaimed that he was the bread from heaven, they were so disappointed. Because he created humanity and he himself assumed human nature, he fully understood that the most fundamental need of man is food. He did not promise to give some magical food which had been the longing of every man but a heavenly food more real than the food and drink of the gods of old. So he said “My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.” Humanity’s longing was now fulfilled in their hearing. Food that had been meant only for gods and angels was suddenly real, as real as it could be.
Those who heard Jesus’ bold proclamation heard the words of a fellow ordinary Jew like themselves. In their minds they were probably thinking “How can he talk like that? How can he give his flesh for us to eat and his blood for us to drink? He must be crazy! Is he out of his mind?” They were not prepared to hear such novelty; they must have thought he was talking about cannibalism. On the contrary Jesus was offering himself as the fountain of life: “As the living Father sent me and I draw life from the Father, so whoever eats me will draw life from me.” Humanity’s quest for the fountain of youth and the elixir of life ended when Jesus offered himself as the Bread of Life. Humanity’s quest for immortality had been found: “Anyone who eats this bread will live forever.”
At this very moment, thousands of scientists around the world are still busy searching for that mythical food and drink. Thanks to their labour our lives may become lot easier and even longer - but nothing can extend our lives beyond the definitive time of our allocated existence. Something greater than the physical body will live on because we are actually created immortal unlike the Greek gods who did not really live. We are immortal because we have souls that will never die; we are also immortal because we partake the food and drink that only God can give: His Body and Blood in the Eucharist!