People can sometimes seem very ungrateful. I remember that once when I was studying at our priory in Oxford, a couple came to the door and asked for a sandwich. So I went off to our kitchen and made them both some cheese sandwiches. But when I came back and gave them the sandwiches, I felt horrified that they demanded to know why I had not put any pickle in them! I remember thinking: How ungrateful can these people be?
Jesus must have felt like saying this to the people whom he had fed when they came asking for a sign that he was indeed the one to believe in. And in our first reading, the Israelites are complaining that Moses and Aaron brought them out into the desert to die, when they had all they wanted to eat even under the slavery of the Egyptians. They had forgotten that it was out of this slavery that they had been redeemed.
It is so easy to forget when someone has done us a good turn or even the amount of sacrifice our parents might have gone through in order that we could have what we wanted. We treat them as if they should have done much more. We often judge someone's love or care for us by what they give or do for us.
It's the same way that we approach God. If God gives us all we ask for, then he is really a good God. But then we complain when things are not going the way we would like: God does not care. We judge God by our own standards and the way we treat each other.
There is so often a bit of this ungratefulness in us when we approach God, especially when we fail to recognize that God continues to provide for our every need. The more we receive from God, it seems that the more he has to do if we are to believe in him.
The people Jesus encountered, those he fed with bread, demanded more from God so that they could believe, when all along that 'sign' they so desired was right in their midst. We can miss the moment because we are either looking for the wrong thing or in the wrong place.
Jesus fed them with bread and they were stuck on that, because they were concerned only with satisfying their physical hunger. They failed to see that it was Jesus who could give them the true bread, that is, eternal life. Despite all the things God does in our lives, we still ask for signs and only then will we believe.
Our coming to believe and trust in God cannot be based on mere signs. We have to trust in God's providential care without feeling that he has to do something grand for us to believe. In any case, take a look around and see all that God has already provided for us.
Yet, today we are invited to focus on this Bread from heaven that gives us life, that is, Jesus Christ. Each time we come to the table of the Lord in the Eucharist, we receive that life-giving Bread that provides us with the spiritual nourishment needed for our Christian journey to the Lord.
God gives us the true Bread in Jesus and this Bread gives life to the world. Let us therefore hunger for this Bread that will last and look beyond the tangible, to recognize God's love for us and presence to us. Hunger after Jesus, who is the Bread of life, and let us be more appreciative of all that God gives to us, especially in his Son, Jesus.