In reading the Gospels, and observing the interactions Jesus had with most people whose path he crossed, I always keep in mind that Jesus knows human nature! That is an understatement, I know. Two common, ordinary, elements of human nature that are with us perpetually are hunger (nutrients), and vulnerability (truth). They do not seem to have any connection except for the fact that we do not live well, at all, if we were only to depend upon ourselves to adequately address these to human dilemmas. And to have a healthy and safe life, there appears to be a need for intentionality, as regard what we eat, and the truth we pursue. So spirituality has a lot to do with it: a way of living which includes being conscious, deliberate, knowing, purposeful, and willful.
To make this clearer, perhaps, think of the antonyms to intentionality, which would include: a non-purposive, and a non-deliberate life. Where am I going with this meditation? I am going straight to where Jesus wants us to be with Him. Eating him. When the crowd comes to Jesus because they got all the bread they wanted from him the day before and were looking for more, he makes the same point as that traditional saying: “when you want to help feed people, don’t give them a fish, rather, teach them how to fish.” He tells them that the bread he has been giving them is of no lasting use. He explains to them that the giving and receiving of that bread and fish will not solve their problems, or the problems of the world. He tells them to be interested in something that will help them more definitively (intentionally), and he suggests they take him as their food and drink. He asks them to make him and his way of living their “bread and butter” in daily life.
To eat him is to have the intentionality of accepting his lifestyle and adopting it to this world. This would mean being attentive to one another, using the gifts we are to each other. It really is the reorganization of how we relate to one another under the same roof, in the same school building, or work- place. Our intentionality would be in the reorganization of the situations in which we live, work, play and pray. It is a daily task through the eating of the Bread of Life and paying attention to the Word of Truth found in the Gospels.
Fr. Alex Steinmiller, C.P. is president emeritus of Holy Family Cristo Rey Catholic High School, Birmingham, Alabama.