There is a popular Bruce Springsteen song that contains the lyric, “Everybody has a hungry heart…Everybody wants to have a home.” The song has a through-line of yearning, and although its focus is romantic love, I think the essence relates very much to the Scripture readings today.
All three readings contain reference to nourishment, not the kind in our bellies, which we humans know about all too well, but the deeper, more lasting nourishment that feeds the hunger in our souls.
The “bread and wine” of our human lives, that which keeps us living and contented as physical beings—the food we eat, the people we love, the work we do, the material objects that provide a modicum of comfort—ground us in reality and give a measure of sustenance that we need and appreciate.
But Jesus challenges the crowds, and us, to confront the fleeting needs and satisfactions of our human flesh and instead find eternal Life through the Flesh and Blood of the Son of Man. It is our communion with Christ that gives life everlasting.
Living as we do in a world waging war with itself over how to keep or get goods to survive, I can relate to how crazy Jesus’ words must have sounded to the crowds who were being asked to put their faith in the nourishing power of a different kind of “food.” Could there truly be something even more filling than the loaves and fishes that had taken away their bodies’ pangs of discontent?
Yes, Jesus assures us. If we go to Christ, if we become one with Him, we will be seated at the banquet of God’s love. It is at this table that the hunger in our hearts is finally satisfied and where we find the place that we can truly call home.
Nancy Nickel is the director of marketing and communications at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, Illinois.