St. Athanasius, Bishop & Doctor of the Church
Acts 6:8-15 + John 6:22-29
May 2, 2022
“… believe in the one He sent.”
In today’s Gospel passage from John 6, we hear the crowd ask Jesus two questions. First they ask, “Rabbi [meaning, “Teacher”], when did you get here?” Jesus doesn’t answer their question, but He confronts them with the fact that they are only concerning themselves about their physical hunger. It was for this reason that they had wanted to make Him their king. But Jesus wants them to want something greater.
Towards this end, He shifts their attention from the physical hunger that He satisfied shortly before through the multiplication of loaves, to the spiritual hunger that He will satisfy later through the Institution of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. To the extent that they understand how Jesus is trying to shift the direction of their conversation, the crowd wants in.
So they ask Jesus their second question: “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” Jesus’ response is brief. The work of God is to have faith in the One He sent. In other words, they do not themselves have the means to satisfy this hunger: there is no spiritual refrigerator, supermarket, or field for them to go to. Their spiritual hunger is not only for something to fill the emptiness inside their souls. That hunger is also for something to fill the emptiness around them. For there is nothing around them in the world that is capable of sustaining them eternally, but only dependence upon God through the divine virtue of faith.