Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time – Year B


Robert P. Hagan, O.S.A.
Villanova Univeristy
Villanova, Pennsylvania

Ex 16:2-4, 12-15
Ps 78:3-4, 23-24, 25, 54
Eph 4:17, 20-24
Jn 6:24-35

Hungry and Humble

Much has been said, written, tweeted and blogged about a Villanova University Men’s Basketball program that has captured 2 of the last 3 NCAA Championships. The program is far from perfect, but there are some core values, foundational building blocks, that contribute to lasting and sustained success. Ask a tournament MVP, a first round NBA draft pick, a walk on who never plays, a manager who does all the laundry behind the scenes, or their award winning coach, and you will hear the same mantra: “We strive to stay hungry and humble.” They literally wear bracelets on each arm that say “Hungry and Humble,” as a reminder of the importance of living, thinking and playing this way.

While I have seen these young men pack away thousands of calories in the form of chicken, steak, fish and vegetables, it is clear that this band of brothers is hungry for something so much more than what the training table can offer. This is a group that never talks about winning championships, but more of their desire, their hunger to play for each other, to play for those who have gone before them. There is a hunger for unity, a hunger for togetherness, a hunger for belonging that creates a spirit among them that supersedes all those other things inlife that fail to satisfy. Another trophy, championship or net cut down cannot come close to the fulfillment of being part of something bigger than self, and they believeit.

We recall that Jesus fed the 5000 last week with 5 loaves and 2 fish. What an incredible meal! The disciples and many others recall this also. They went looking for Jesus to provide more. Jesus didn’t want to be known simply as one who can get us stuff. He is literally coaching us up and urging us to stay hungry and humble. “I can fill more than your stomachs.” “Do not work for food which perishes, work for food that lasts.” Isaiah reminds us: “Why labor for that which does not satisfy?”

Jesus knows that we have physical hunger, and we do well to help provide food for those who are in dire need of something to eat, but He also is speaking of a spiritual hunger that lies within every human heart. Only God can restore what all our striving has depleted. “I am the true bread and without me and fresh fire in your soul, you will burn out and always be hungry for more.”

St. Augustine found out the hard way, as many us do, chasing after all those things that we think will satisfy and fill us up. Fill in your own blank: power, money, ambition, sex,“likes on social media.” Such can be like drinking salt water. The more we drink, the thirstier weget!

Jesus reminds us to stay humble when he points out that the gifts in life that we have received, enjoyed and the things we have accomplished are literally generated from the grace of God. “The manna you received from Moses in the desert, yes that too was a gift from God, our Father.”

We come around the table of the Lord with great appetites and we are very hungry. On this anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we still live in a world starved for peace. Jesus is saying: “I and my way of life is a pathway to that peace.” We sit at this table with hearts full of past mistakes and poor decisions and Jesus is saying: “I know that you are hungry for forgiveness, and I am here to serve mercy and compassion.” Many of us are struggling in jobs that have us feeling overworked, anxious and unfulfilled and Jesus is aware of that hunger for more. He is offering us an opportunity to consider our state in life not so much as a job, but a vocation, a calling to serve others and be served by Him who satisfies like no other. Too much of life can be filled with superficial relationships, and Jesus sees our hunger for truth and genuine people who care and accept us for who we really are. I know you have family and friends who are sick and suffering and are hungry for healing and strength.

If life has left you hungry and humble today, Jesus says, “Good!” Stay on my team. Have a seat at my table. There is a standing reservation made especially for you here. I am the bread of life. The one who satisfies all. The one who soothes restless hearts. Let me feed you with something more than the world can offer you.Don’t be duped into settling for anything that is less that what I can offer you. Have a seat at my table, at the altar where I have sacrificed myselffor something more than me-You! “Come to me all you who labor and find life burdensome and I will give you rest.”