The Gospel according to John (6:44-51)
Jesus said to the crowds: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day. It is written in the prophets: They shall all be taught by God. Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from Heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from Heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my Flesh for the life of the world.”
Reflection: In today’s gospel we find ourselves in the midst of a huge conundrum, or better yet, not us but the people who were following Jesus. Jesus taught like no one else. In Mark’s gospel we hear that he taught as one who had authority, not as other teachers. He performed many miracles. He turned water into wine, cured the sick, multiplied the loaves and fish and fed thousands. He even walked on water. His followers are pretty much convinced that he is from God. However, now he is driving home that the Father sent him to save the world and that HE is the “food” that will make this possible.
Are you sitting down! Is your mind blown!? We can only imagine what went on in the minds of those who were filled with hope because they thought he was the one who would deliver them from their suffering and needs. But being a follower of Jesus then and now is not for the faint of heart or for those who are short sighted. Not long after we have a full meal we start thinking about the next. Once we obtain our latest desire it is not long before we begin wanting something else. We get so caught up in fulfilling our needs and desires that we forget that one day our bodies will cease, and the endless cycle of need, desire, and satisfaction will end. Then what?
Jesus offers us so much more than our material and temporal needs. He offers us himself! He literally says we will not die if we eat the living bread, Him, come down from heaven. In the beginning of John’s gospel, we hear the beautiful words, “In the beginning was the Word…” Later we hear, “And the Word became flesh”. God the Father, God the Creator of all sent his son so that death would not be the end. Jesus, even at this stage in his ministry is pointing to the ultimate sacrifice made possible only through the love of the Son of God for His Father. And he was willing to follow the will of His Father so that none of us would be lost.
Is it not so that, today, we still struggle believing in the truth of this gift? Whatever the reasons are the Word made flesh made it possible for us to overcome the plight of our struggles. Manna is not enough. We have the bread that came down from heaven so that we would not perish but have eternal life.
Action of the Day: The next time you receive the precious body, think about all of the souls who have existed, are now present, and who will be. Contemplate on the mercy and love of God that made it possible for all to be offered the gift of eternal life. Are you sitting down? Is your mind blown? Our cups overflow.