Are our hearts open to the intangible?
Like the Israelites complaining to Moses in Exodus, we tend to covet the tangible. They want their fill of bread, and God, remarkably, answers their grumbling with a tangible foodstuff: In the evening twilight you shall eat flesh, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread. Why? So that you may know that I, the Lord, am your God. This is the bread of angels of which Psalm 78 speaks, manna, heavenly bread. The Israelites are satisfied (at least for a time) by tangible food over which they believe they exercise some control; but soon, having only what is necessary is not enough, and their grumbling will recommence. Their hearts are not open to the intangible, and their trust, their faith is limited.
In John’s Gospel, the crowds in Capernaum are looking for a repeat of Jesus’ earlier sign, the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. But Jesus is clear in his response to them: Do not work for food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life. Unlike Moses, Jesus goes straight for the intangible: the food that endures is the food of faith; the bread that comes down from heaven is Jesus himself, come down to be in their very midst. The crowds need to place their trust in the intangible love of God, which is visible only to the heart; this is the crux of faith. When Paul writes to the Ephesians, it is this intangible love that allows a new self, created in God’s way (of love!) in righteousness and holiness of truth. It is the intangible, both Jesus and Paul tell us, that is truly of value, that makes life worth living – and that truth is found in the intangible love of God given expression by the man Jesus.
Is your heart open to that intangible that is Jesus, God’s love incarnate?
This post is based on Fr. Pat's Scripture class.
Image source: Wordle