"Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear?"
"all good giving and every perfect gift is from above coming down from the Father of lights"
I have spent much of my life waging an internal battle with certain relationships trying to figure out if I’ve trusted too much or too little. It is painful and debilitating spiritually, physically, mentally. When those difficult times occur, it is generally because I have been unable to let go of my own sense of control and the illusion that it is I who hold the power over what direction that relationship, or sometimes a part of my life, will go.
Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t have a part to play in how my life unfolds. But I have been "enticed," as the first reading might say, "by desire." And the desire is to manage reality so that it doesn’t wound me, knock me off-balance, make me feel foolish or exposed or too vulnerable. I want to feel at peace; if only I didn’t have to let go to attain it!
What Jesus is saying in the Gospel, I believe, is that the very bread of one’s life – that which will nourish, sustain and relieve our human hunger (or desire for a life of wholeness) – does not come from a source that is external to us, just as the Pharisees or Herod could not provide the "leaven" that would truly feed the disciples. And it is also not created within us under our own power or control.
That which is good, healing and life-affirming comes to us from God. But allowing that goodness in requires a measure of trust from us. In the Gospel, we see that it is only a short time after the disciples have seen Jesus feed the multitude that their trust in Him begins to falter and they are tempted to reclaim their belief in human power in order to alleviate their hunger.
It is a cry of anguish to me – "Do you still not understand?" Jesus will need to go to the very Cross to help awaken us to the love and nourishment that is God’s gift just waiting to be received.
It is a terrible thing to live without trust; it deadens the heart and soul. But the power of God is one of resurrection, so that no heart is beyond reviving and no soul is beyond salvation. We have only to "let go and let God." Not always easy, but a promise that at the end of the tunnel, there is, in fact, light.
Nancy Nickel is director of communications at the Passionist Development Office in Chicago.