When I was in my first year of seminary in Italy, I decided that my eyeglass prescription really needed to be adjusted. Of course, the advice from some of the local alumni was to “be sure to go to Dr. TWA” (aka Trans World Airlines!). Anyway, I went and told the doctor—with my very sketchy Italian skills at the time—that I wanted to be able to see better. After awhile and several gestures, he seemed to understand and he sat me down in the chair and started to apply different lenses, asking me to read the chart. At one point, he asked, “meglio?” (which translates, “better?”). “Si” I replied, to which he abruptly stood, clapped his hands and declared, “va bene!” and decided that he had done his job completely. Eventually, I got my new prescription and it wasn’t merely “better”, but close to perfect.
The immediate need that I had expressed was the cause of our confusion. I had said that I wanted to be able to see “better” or “meglio”, and his response was appropriate. But what I really wanted, with the help of an updated eyeglass prescription, was to have my eyesight brought to 40/40. I had expressed an immediate need, not realizing that I should have been expressing my ultimate, final need.
In today’s gospel, the crowds who were fed the loaves and fish are now hungry again, and naturally, are seeking Jesus in order to have their hunger satisfied. But what they didn’t realize was that their hunger was much more deep, fundamental, basic…. Even with enough bread to satisfy them for the rest of their days, they would still feel the pangs of longing for the union they keep seeking with Christ. The Lord sees this truth, and His challenge to them was for them to place their faith in him, believe in Him, and thus commit themselves to the works of God. For us, too, the Lord sees this truth as we approach Him—sometimes with mundane and not-so-mundane intercessions—but in all of them, he wants to satisfy our lasting hunger with His everlasting life.