Do not labor for the food which perishes

Do not labor for the food which perishes

Friday, November 13, 2015/Categories: General Articles

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In John 6:27, Jesus says

 

“Do not labor for the food which perishes,  but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give to you" (John 6:27).

 

Now what is this food that does not perish? The answer is that it is the food that Christ gives us. The food that Christ says, “the Son of Man will give to you" (John 6:27). That is, the food is Christ Himself! Let us read carefully what Christ says about Himself in Chapter 6 of the Gospel of St. John (entire chapter). He says, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst" (John 6:35). And in John 6:48-50, Jesus says, “I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die" (John 6:48-50). So Christ tells us in these verses that He Himself is the food that does not perish, but endures onto  eternal life. And He offers Himself to us in every Divine Liturgy through the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Let us read carefully what Jesus says in John 6:53-54 as He speaks to all of us: “Most assuredly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:53-54). Note here that Jesus does not say in this verse that  “will some day will have eternal life" but rather He says that such a person  already  “has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." So Christ is the bread of life who comes to join us to God the Father and to spiritually nourish us onto life everlasting.

 

What more is this food that does not perish but endures onto eternal life? Is it not to use the blessings and the free gifts that God has given us on this earth to help other people, especially those who are suffering and in need? Is it not to spend as much time adorning the soul as we spend adorning the body?  And is it not to check up once in a while to make sure that we have not lost those things that money cannot buy? And is it not to say with Jesus, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.  My food is to do the will of the Father who sent Me and to finish His work" (John 4:32-34)? Is it not to come to Jesus every day and let Him feed us with the “bread of life, of which any person eats he shall never hunger"? And is it not to invest our life in alleviating pain and suffering by lending an understanding ear to the tired, to the discouraged, and to the aged? Is it not to leave all, to sell all, in order to gain that pearl of great price, Jesus? And is it not to cultivate a self, a soul that we can take to God without shame when we leave this

life?  And is it not to invest our life in lifting the fallen, in visiting the sick and imprisoned, in feeding the hungry, and clothing the poor (Matthew 25:32-46)?

 

Now all of us do labor in life. But the important question is about what do we labor? Do we labor for the food that perishes? Or do we labor for the food that endures onto eternal life?

 

Consider this great quotation from Thomas A’kempis from his classic book “The Imitation of Christ".  A’kempis says:

 

“For a small income, a long journey is undertaken (that is, one is willing to take a long journey just to gain a small amount of money). For everlasting life, many will scarce once lift a foot from

the ground. The most pitiful reward is sought after and fought for. For a single bit of money, sometimes there is shameful contention. For a vain matter and slight promise, people fear not to toil day and night.  But alas, for an unchangeable good, for an inestimable award, for the highest honor, and glory without end, they grudge even the least fatigue!"

 
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