WANT BREAD OR BREAD OF LIFE?
From last Sunday we began five weeks of Gospels from the sixth chapter of John talking about the theology of the Holy Eucharist. Last Sunday we heard about the multiplication of loaves. In today’s Gospel the people who had been fed search for Jesus. What did they want? Free Food or Jesus the Bread of life? They really don’t want Him. They want free food.
Jesus uses this as an opportunity to speak about the food that really matters, the Bread of Life that God provides. He tells them about a gift of food that they knew very well, the manna in the desert during the time of Moses. This was seen as the greatest gift of God. It was His daily testimony of His love and care for His People until they arrived at the Holy Place He would give them. Jesus mentions that they ate the manna, but they were still hungry. Jesus would provide food that would not leave them hungry, the Bread of Life.
By doing this, Jesus invites them to make a step further: to be rather passionate of this food which lasts eternally. He invites them to be passionate of that food which is given to us by grace, and by the heavenly Father only. This food is not similar to that which Israel ate in the desert as manna: it is the living bread descended from heaven to give life to the world. Jesus is the person who received grace from God to bring life to the world. The eternal food as the body of Christ draws us closer to him, the only way by which eternal life can be guaranteed to us.
So we come before the Lord this and every Sunday, or perhaps for some of us, every day, and we say to the Lord, “Feed me.” But do we really want to be fed? The food that God gives demands a total commitment to Him. It is called the Bread of Life. We often, rightly so focus on the “bread” part as we discuss the Eucharist. It is the “life” part I want us to consider. Jesus is life and he gives life.
The Second Reading from the Letter to the Ephesians speaks of Learning Christ or Learning from Christ. We are invited to open our hearts and minds to learn not only the truth about Jesus as One sent by the Father to bring new life, but also to learn the truth that is Jesus who says to us: I am the way, the truth and the life (cf. John 14:6).
At the end of today’s passage, Jesus said: Whoever comes to me will never be hungry; whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. Entrusting ourselves to Jesus enables us to get in touch with our deepest hunger, our deepest thirst, our deepest heart desires. Once in touch with them, we begin to see the sheer superficiality, the emptiness, of so much that drives people. In effect, Jesus is Bread that nourishes our physical hunger, but above all HE IS THE BREAD OF LIFE.
Fr. Jude Thaddeus Langeh, cmf
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