Complaining is commonplace. Life’s annoyances and problems see to that. Complaining gets things done. The Israelites complained about Moses’ wilderness menu. God provided quails and bread from heaven. Yet complaining, especially constant complaining, is quietly destructive of relationships, of community, of public life.
Jesus had to endure the complaints of the Scribes and Pharisees about the message he preached and his way of life. Sometimes he is very tough with them, calling them hypocrites and whited sepulchres. In today’s gospel he is disappointed that their interest in him focuses on his satisfying their human needs (the bread they received at the feeding of the 5000). Why couldn’t they see that this sign, this miracle, pointed to God’s power, his Father’s power working through him?
We must be watchful and not allow complaining (“God never answers my prayers”), self-depreciation (“I’m not good enough”), spiritual desolation (“I’m cut off from God”) and many such negative assertions to twist and distort our spiritual lives. In Gethsemane Jesus prayed that the chalice of suffering might be taken away. Yet when he realised it was God’s will, he accepted it. He doesn’t complain as he carries his cross to Calvary, but prays for the safety of the “women of Jerusalem”. He doesn’t complain on the cross but lovingly encourages the “good thief”; he even prays for his persecutors. “Father, forgive them…
Gratitude, thanksgiving, not complaints characterise the Christian. If you come to the Eucharist, thanksgiving for God’s gifts (for thanksgiving is what Eucharist means) is what we are about in this church. If you search for the meaning of life, for the bread of life, hear Jesus’ words: “I am the bread of life”. Jesus totally satisfies hunger, quenches thirst. If you come close to Jesus, your life will not be aimless. You will become involved in a spiritual revolution, finding a new self, your best self, caught up in the most certain way to goodness, holiness and truth.