April 20th, 2021

The Gospel according to John (6:30-35) 

The crowd said to Jesus:
“What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you?
What can you do?
Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written:

    He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”

So Jesus said to them,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven;
my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 
For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven
and gives life to the world.”

So they said to Jesus,
“Sir, give us this bread always.” 
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life;
whoever comes to me will never hunger,
and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

Opening Prayer: Jesus, You are the true bread from heaven.  Help me to always seek to be nourished by Your bread and by Your word.  Never let me be parted from You.  Amen.

Encountering Christ:

One can only imagine Jesus’ reaction to the crowd at the beginning of today’s Gospel.  I mean, He had just multiplied the loaves and fishes and fed five thousand and more, oh, and He also walked on the water (though maybe the crowd did not see that).  What more could the crowd have wanted, as far as a “sign” so that they could believe in Jesus?

It’s like our family cat, Tiberius.  My son Bobby leaves for work very early, and he will often give treats to Tiberius before he goes.  An hour or so later, I get up and Tiberius is right there, rubbing against my leg, hoping that I, too, will give him treats, as though he hadn’t just had them an hour before!  Tibs is just like the crowd in today’s story.  He’s hoping for more, even though he actually already received his treats.

One could not blame Jesus, if He said, “come on, I already performed a great sign.  You don’t need another one to have basis to believe in me.”  But, He does not do this.  Instead, He recognizes that what they really want is to understand the ancient miracle of the manna from Moses’ time.  And, to these observant Jews, Jesus makes a remarkable claim: it wasn’t Moses who provided the manna, it was God who did it.  And, not only that, God continues to offer His bread to give life to the world.

Now, the Jews do misunderstand totally what that “bread” is (Jesus Himself).  But, for us in our modern day, we also need the bread that gives life to the world, and we are blessed that we can receive it every time we attend mass.  By the mystery of our faith, the bread and wine are transformed into Jesus’ real body and blood, and we are able to feed upon that, nourishing ourselves to live as Jesus’ followers. 

God longs for each of us to walk closely with Him and with His Son, and to share His love and light in the world.  There is so much that can distract us or take us away from that path.  In this Easter season, though, we are renewed by our recent celebration of the Paschal mysteries during Holy Week, and the challenge is to keep the memory of not just Jesus’ sacrifice, but of His resurrection, fully in our minds and hearts, so that we don’t lose heart when times get difficult.

If we trust that Jesus is always with us, and that He wants us to live a life of love and faith, then God can work amazing things through us.  That is what we can do when we meditate upon and receive the bread of life.  If those first hearers of these words of Jesus really understood what He was offering, they could have walked on that path with Jesus right away.  I hope that some did come to know Him, even if they did initially reject Him.  You and I, though, can say right now that we believe and that we want to bring Jesus’ love to the world.  Let us bear that in mind whenever we have the opportunity to receive Jesus at mass, and take Him into our hearts and into our very selves.  Then, we can be a sign of His love and we can draw others to love Him and walk with Him even as we do.

Closing Prayer: Dear Jesus, help me to take You out into the world with me.  Let me love as You love, and forgive as You forgave.  Help me to draw someone toward You by the way Your love shines through me.  Amen.

Action for the Day: Think of how you feel that Jesus has touched you yesterday.  What was that experience like?  Did you feel that He was calling you to act in a particular way?  Did you take that step in faith?  If not, watch closely for Jesus reaching out to you today and what He is asking you to do to show His love and of course, ask for the grace to do that action. 

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