John 6:24-35 (NRSV)
Verse 24So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus. Verse 25When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, "Rabbi, when did you come here?" Verse 26Jesus answered them, "Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Verse 27Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal."
Verse 28Then they said to him, "What must we do to perform the works of God?" Verse 29Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent." Verse 30So they said to him, "What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Verse 31Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'" Verse 32Then Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. Verse 33For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." Verse 34They said to him, "Sir, give us this bread always." Verse 35Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
A popular statement, often mistakenly attributed to St. Francis, goes “Always preach the gospel, and, if you must, use words”. Anna didn’t need to use words. We called her “Little Anna,” not because she was a child but because her frame had shrunk to the point she stood barely five feet tall. The driver of our church van told me that when he drove up to her house and pushed the button to open the sliding door on the other side of the van, she was so short he couldn’t see her standing there. What he did see was her hand reaching up into the van with a can of beef stew for the neighborhood food shelf.
I learned from Anna that if I wanted to influence parishioners to give to the food shelf or contribute to the World Hunger Appeal, it was best not to talk about it but to contribute myself. So when I tire of contributing food or money, I think of Anna and her can of beef stew.
Generous God, you provide bread for the hungry. Help us to turn our words into actions in your name. Amen.