Being that tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I like most people, can recall many fond memories from Thanksgivings past. They play in my mind like film loops running in succession, over and over again. And on a quiet morning such as this one, the best part is they are presented without commercial interruption. One of my fondest memories is watching my grandma as she went about the task of making her famous biscuits. Here in the South they would be better known as dinner rolls, but we didn’t live in the South back then, and in Michigan they were called biscuits, so biscuits it shall be.
For every gathering of the extended family, my grandma’s biscuits would be the highlight of the meal. She would begin making them early in the morning when she could enjoy peace and quiet, having the kitchen all to herself. Sometimes I would sneak into the kitchen and just take up a place next to her without saying a word. Grandma would give me a nod and then continue with her work. Taking a fist full of dough, she would squeeze it just right and “pop” just enough through her thumb and forefinger to produce a perfectly sized ball that would later be my biscuit, or my brother’s, or someone else’s.
Every now and then she would let me give it a try. I’d snatch up some dough, give it a squeeze, but try as I might I just couldn’t get the hang of it. Grandma was a pro, she could pop out those dough balls faster than I could count them and soon enough she would attract a crowd, all of her grandchildren assembled around the table, watching the dough “pop” through her fingers. The more she would do it, the more we would say, “Go slower so we can see how it is done.” We never quite got the hang of it, but we always looked forward to Grandma’s biscuits. As the family grew over the years, so too would the number of biscuits, each year leaving us wanting more and more. But I’m not sure what we wanted more of, the delicious biscuits, or the wonderful experience of watching Grandma as she “popped” them out.
Reading the gospel according to St. John, I see Jesus also had a situation concerning having enough bread. Jesus had been seen performing great miracles of healing, and the more such signs and wonders were witnessed, the larger the crowds following him became. Then, while in the wilderness, crowds of people who were gathered around Jesus grew hungry. Having compassion for, them, Jesus provided the miracle of the five loaves and two fishes, feeding more than 5000 people. The people were fed and satisfied, and amazingly, twelve baskets full of bread were left over. The bread seemed to “pop” out of nowhere and the people were amazed.
When Jesus had crossed the sea and returned to Capernaum, the crowds of people that were fed previously on the other side had made across the sea first and stood by greeting him as he arrived. They wanted more, question is, what did they want more of? They asked to see the miracle again. Perhaps they were still hungry, but I can’t imagine that free bread would be enough cause for so many people to travel such a distance, especially so quickly. They wanted more; they wanted to believe Jesus was God’s long awaited Messiah, and they wanted him to prove it by producing more bread. Jesus’ answer? “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
The people wanted a sign so that they might believe, yet with the miracle of the loaves and fishes, Jesus had already done so. The crowds wanted to see the miracle again, they wanted to be sure. What they failed to realize is that, it isn’t bread that satisfies the hunger they were experiencing, it goes much deeper than that. Earthly bread satisfies hunger for a little while, Jesus satisfies the hunger that goes much deeper; Jesus satisfies the hunger of our souls. Jesus gives food for life, food for forgiveness, food for our salvation. Jesus satisfies our hunger for God’s love and grace by giving his body and blood as ransom for our sin. Jesus satisfies our hunger to live in the peace of Christ, knowing that no matter what trials we face on earth, we will never be separated from God’s love and we will become inheritors of his kingdom forever.
This is the food that leaves Christians wanting more, but not wanting more signs and wonders so that we may believe. No, Christ has already provided enough for us to believe. Yet as our thankful response to God’s mercy and grace through Christ Jesus, we want God to further equip and empower us to share this wonderful gift with all whom God places in our midst. We want to experience the joy of being as Christ for others who are in need, especially during times of thanksgiving. It is the mission of each and every Christian to share this gift of God’s love, so that all may come to his table and receive the Bread of Life which satisfies the deepest hunger of humanity, the hunger and longing for God’s eternal grace. So because of this, we say to Christ, “Give us this bread always, that we may share the good news with others.” Thanks be to God.