The whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, "Would that we had died at the Lord's hand in the land of Egypt, as we sat by our fleshpots and ate our fill of bread! But you had to lead us into this desert to make the whole community die of famine!"
Then the Lord said to Moses, "I will now rain down bread from heaven for you. each day the people are to go out and gather their daily portion; thus will I test them, to see whether they follow my instructions or not.
"I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them: In the evening twilight you shall eat flesh, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread, so that you may know that I, the Lord, am your God."
In the evening quail came up and covered the camp. In the morning a dew lay all about the camp, and when the dew evaporated, there on the surface of the desert were fine flakes like hoarfrost on the ground. On seeing it, the Israelites asked one another, "What is this?" for they did not know what it was. But Moses told them, "This is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat."(P) The word of the Lord.
What we have heard and know, and what our fathers have declared to us, we will declare to the generation to come, the glorious deeds of the Lord and his strength and the wonders that he wrought. (R)
He commanded the skies above and opened the doors of heaven; he rained manna upon them for food and gave them heavenly bread. (R)
Man ate the bread of angels, food he sent them in abundance. And he brought them to his holy land, to the mountains his right hand had won. (R)
Brothers and sisters: I declare and testify in the Lord that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds, that is not how you learned Christ, assuming that you have heard of him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus, that you should put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created in God's way in righteousness and holiness of truth.(P) The word of the Lord.
When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus. And when they found him across the sea they said to him, "Rabbi, when did you get here?" Jesus answered them and said, "Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal" So they said to him, "What can we do to accomplish the works of God?" Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent." So they said to him, "What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat." So Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which come down from heaven and gives life to the world." So they said to him, "Sir, give us this bread always." Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst."(P) The Gospel of the Lord.
A farmer had a dog which used to sit by the roadside waiting for vehicles to come by. As soon as one came along, he would run after it, barking and trying to overtake it. One day a neighbor asked the farmer "Do you think your dog is ever going to catch a vehicle?" The farmer replied, "That is not what bothers me. What bothers me is what he would do if he ever caught one."
Like the dog in the story many people waste their whole life pursuing worthless things. They do not realize that they need first to think about the things they would pursue before going after them. Yes. It's a matter of the way we think that bears heavily on the way we act. For instance, before we can act godly, we have to start thinking that way first. Very few people first find out what matters most and then pursue it and so are content with the end result.
In the last few weeks we have been reading and reflecting on Saint Paul's letter to the Ephesians. From the letter we understand that the Ephesian Christians were mostly Gentile converts. By the way, "Gentiles" refer to "pagans" or people who do not know or follow the one true God. During his ministry, Paul observed that despite their conversion to Christianity, the Gentile Christians lacked an understanding of the history and experience behind the various traditions, which led to tensions and disputes between Jews and Gentiles.
So he wrote a letter from prison to remind them about God's marvelous plan to bring peace, unity and salvation to all peoples, Jews and Gentiles alike and the change that God brings about in every believer through His Son Jesus Christ and as well as the Christian call to holiness and so on. Last week we read Paul's exhortation to them to live a life worthy of the Christian call with "humility, gentleness, patience, love and peace" and, to believe in "one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father". In today's text, Paul describes the changes in their thinking and behavior which being "in Christ" requires.
He says, "I declare and testify in the Lord that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds".
Futility means uselessness or pointlessness. We all know that our minds are made to know truth. God has created us for truth. Jesus said, "The truth will make you free", John (8:32). The most important truth our mind longs to know is the truth about God. God wants us to know everything about Him. So he has revealed himself to us through His Son Jesus Christ. Saint Augustine, in his book "Confessions" beautifully expresses, "Thou has made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee". However, when our minds reject the truth - in this case spiritual and moral truth - they do become, in a very real sense, useless. They don't do for us what they're supposed to do. Often times we make mistakes when attempting to know the truth. We are deceived into thinking that something is true even though it is not.
Paul refers, "the futility of their minds" to the minds of the Gentile Christians which failed to produce the desired result. Their minds were useless and empty. They amounted to nothing because they were concerned with empty things which did not matter. They were consuming themselves in the pursuit of goals that were purely selfish, temporary, and intrinsically deceptive and disappointing. In spite of the fact that they were God's chosen people, they often lived in the futility of their minds- with dark understanding and hard hearts. They had become Christians but were still very ignorant of God, and of divine things. They were like people without God and without hope. They were worldly and ungodly. Their way of life or attitude was one of who did not belong to the true God.
Therefore, he said, "That is not how you learned Christ, assuming that you have learned of him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, that you should put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created in God's way in righteousness and holiness of truth".
Paul learned the secret of how to take Christ as life, Colossians (3:4). The 12 disciples followed Jesus Christ and learned from Him. So Paul assumed that since the Gentiles have become Christians they must have learned much about Jesus Christ and about the nature of the Christian life. But unfortunately the Ephesian Christians did not. So he called on them to turn away from their former way of life, leave behind "deceitful desires", and pursue the righteousness and holiness of God instead. Paul made it clear that while salvation and sanctification were the work of God, it was up to the Ephesian Christians to obediently make use of them, for His glory and for their good.
All of us, at one time or another, choose to walk according to the way of the Gentiles. We have professed our faith in God and have been baptized. But often times we ignore God. We act as though we have no God and no hope. We choose to live in the sinful world rather than renounce it. We become part of the world. We become saturated with the world, steeped in worldly thinking and worldly acts. Jesus says in John (6:63) that His "words are spirit and life". But many times we deny the word of God and its rightful place in our life. Many times we join non-believers, those who have no knowledge of our scriptures, our faith, our Church's teaching and fight with one another over things that are not central to the gospel of Jesus. We rebel against God, disobey God, dishonor God, and scorn His commandments and the Church's traditions and regulations.
Paul's instruction is a reminder that Christ did not save us in order that we may live anyway that we choose. He saved us so that we may live holy lives, and thus to live in a way that is radically different from our lifestyle as unbelievers. He calls us to conduct ourselves in a manner that is worthy of our calling in Christ. He calls us to turn from the corrupting influences of the world and guard ourselves against those who willfully commit sin and are rebellious. He wants us not to fall back into our old self-indulgent ways. He calls each one of us to the same high standard of conduct in Christ.
As Saint Paul says in his letter to the Colossians (3:2), "Let your thoughts be on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth or are below". In other words, let us think, speak, and act in a good and godly way and become a new creation in Christ. Let us truly believe and obey God's Word, and humbly submit our minds to the teaching of the spirit. Let us learn from Jesus for He is "meek and humble of heart", Matthew (11:29). Let us strive, above all, to stand holy before God because He is Holy.(P) Amen.
God Bless You!