Gospel Message & Recording
by Rev. Fr. Gheevarghese John
Our Lord Jesus Christ speaks to the crowd about how we treat others who are in need. For example, in Matthew 25:35, Jesus speaks about physical hunger and thirst, in regard to our concern for people who are in that condition. If we care about such people, we are fulfilling the command of our Lord to “love our neighbor.” (Mark 12:31)
For Christ, hunger was also “spiritual.” In today’s Gospel reading we hear Jesus saying, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” The word “bread” resonates with Orthodox Christians, because for us “the bread” becomes the Body of Jesus during the Qurbana. Therefore, when we hear the word “bread” (in a Church context) we think of Christ. Similarly, wine becomes the Blood of Christ during the Qurbana. Therefore (within a Church context) when we hear the word “wine,” we think of Christ. Thus, Christ is the bread that we hunger for, and the wine that we thirst for.
Do we hunger and thirst for Christ? Imagine if we were in a desert and we had nothing to drink. How thirsty would we be? And think for a moment the satisfaction we would experience if we were given an opportunity to take that a sip of water. In the same way, in our spiritual life we should always thirst for Christ. Again, imagine if we had not eaten in a few day, wouldn’t the pain within our stomach become unbearable? Similarly, in our spiritual life, we should have a pain, a hunger, in our souls for Christ.
Often we are hungry for the things of the world: sports, fashion, wealth, clothes, power, movies, TV shows, video games, etc. But our hunger should be for the things of God: prayer, fasting, church, Qurbana, charity, helping the poor, etc. Of course, enjoying sports and having good clothes is not a sin. Furthermore, we can say, having wealth could be a gift from God. Nevertheless, we should not “thirst” or “hunger” after them. That should only be reserved for Christ. Would not our Lord, who desires to provide for us, give us the things we need? So, be not hungry or thirsty for the tangible things of this world, which will eventually pass away; but earnestly hunger and thirst for Christ—His love, grace, mercy, forgiveness and compassion—and receive the blessing in this world and the next.