The Gospel according to John (6:44-51)
“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: There is so much we can admire about John’s gospel. It is unique because it is not one of the synoptic gospels; it focuses on the divinity of Jesus; its language is beautiful. This is just to name a few. It contains the Bread of Life Discourse where Jesus makes one of the most controversial statements of his ministry regarding eternal life for those who eat his flesh. This was apparently so difficult it caused many of his followers to leave him.
I think it would be helpful if we read the entire passage of this discourse (6:22-59) in order to get the context and see how masterful Our Lord builds to this deeply meaningful statement. In today’s gospel he emphasizes his relationship with the Father and how he was sent by the Father so that we could have the gift of eternal life. God once provided bread in the form of manna so that those who ate it would not die from hunger. Jesus, the living bread, is now present and this bread will provide eternal life for those who eat it. It is our generous and loving God who saves us through the life, death, and resurrection of His son, Jesus.
And a point I hope we do not miss. Our desire for Jesus, The Living Bread, is placed in our hearts by God. It is because we are His sons and daughters that we have a beacon which, like so many others attracts us to the teachings, example, and sacrifice of Jesus who also acknowledges that everything is from the Father.
How blessed are we who can consume this bread every day of the week if we choose. How blessed are we who can find Him in the Blessed Sacrament and spend time with Jesus. How blessed are we who can receive then become the bread ourselves so we can be nourishment for the world. In sincerity, humility, and gratitude we become what we eat for the good of the world and the glory of God.
Action of the day: The next time you go to mass ponder being present when Jesus shared the words from this part of John’s gospel. Before you receive The Living Bread think about how blessed we are to accept his invitation to receive the gift of eternal life in the breaking of the bread.