Der Vasken's Sermon on February 17, 2019

Feb 19, 2019

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

We all know the story when Jesus fed 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish.  It's one of the more well-known miracles of the Bible.  Well, right after that miracle, an interesting conversation takes place between Jesus and the people gathered around Him. In this conversation, which was read a moment ago, something interesting took place. 

It seems that, after He feeds the crowd of 5,000, the people were looking for more--more bread, more miracles and more of what He had to offer them.  Their bellies were filled and they were satisfied from the bread and fish but they were thinking about their next meal.  So Jesus pulls them into a conversation and encourages them to seek something deeper than the bread they just ate.  He calls it "The Bread from Heaven," "The Living Bread," "The Bread of Eternal Life."    The people heard Him but they didn't understand the meaning of His Words.  They thought that He was speaking about an endless supply of bread.

In biblical days these people thought that might mean any number of breads:  corn bread or flat bread or even an oat-like bread.  Tomorrow would be another day and so they were looking for a way to fill their hunger tomorrow.  Would there be bread available to them to fill their stomachs tomorrow?  But to their astonishment, Jesus tells them that He Himself is that "Living Bread"--the "True Bread from Heaven."  And now they are completely confused.

  • He redirects their thinking.
  • He is offering them "The Bread of Life."
  • He offers them eternal life.
It's the Bread that comes from God.  It's the Bread that will satisfy the part of them that will outlive their bodies.  That Bread is freely given to anyone who seeks it.  It's given to us in both the Bible and in the Badarak (the Eucharist, the Divine Liturgy).  He offers us the Bread that we need not just for today or for tomorrow, but for every day and on into our eternal lives.  The people were speaking about the body, but Jesus was speaking about the soul.

I think we will all agree that, today more than ever before, because of their iPhones, IPads and WiFi everywhere, people are barraged with messages of how they should look on the outside.  And so after being fed this message for so long, for many people it's more important  to look good than to live a good life.  Countless sums of money are spent every year on diets, on fitness centers, on cosmetics and plastic surgery.  Everyone has the right to spend their money on whatever they so choose.  That's their decision.  No debating that.  Spending our funds and time to keep ourselves healthy is something we should all be doing.  But Jesus is giving us a very clear message here today.  Don't ignore the health of your soul.  He is telling us that the health of our soul should be of more concern to us than even our bodies.

If we were to take a person and provide him or her with all their physical and material needs and provide them with all the food and shelter they would ever want, it wouldn't be long before they felt dissatisfied or unfulfilled because nothing material can satisfy our need for God.  Our souls need God in order to grow and in order to thrive.  We may find temporary substitutes to fill these needs, but our real needs can only be satisfied by God.  

To put it simply, the soul needs God and the body needs food.  The soul needs "The Bread of Heaven" and the body needs the five loaves of bread and two fish.  Think about it for a second.  If bodily hunger is not met, people tend to turn to junk food or anything else they can find to fill their immediate hunger.  The same is true for the soul.  Without the True God, people seek gods in other people and other things around them only to be disappointed.

In the celebration of the Badarak, Jesus gives us Bread for the soul.

  • It's the Bread that will not disappoint.
  • It's the Bread of Life.
  • It's the Bread that comes from Heaven.
  • It's the Bread that will feed our needs well after tomorrow.
  • It's the Bread of eternal life.
  • And it's our Holy of Holies as we say in the Badarak.
Just as He taught and fed those 5,000 people along that mountainside so many years ago, He teaches and feeds us today at every Badarak.  The Badarak is where Christ speaks to us as the Church and as a community and as individuals.  Through the Badarak we can be renewed with a fresh way of thinking and dealing with the world around us.

So today through a conversation that took place over 2,000 years ago, Christ gives us "The Bread of Life" and "The Bread of Life" feeds the real hungers of the soul. Today, because of this Bible reading, which is also "The Bread of Life" and "The Bread of Heaven," we have a chance to think about our personal relationship with Christ.  Consider these questions:

  • Is Christ the Bread my life needs?
  • Or is the world fulfilling my needs?
And when He speaks to me, do I really hear him or do I hear only what I want to hear?  Something we could all benefit from thinking about.
  • Is Christ the Bread my life needs?
  • Or is the world fulfilling my needs?