When Jesus tells us that He is the Bread of Life, He is inviting us to His table at every opportunity.

If we have noticed it, the gospel texts of this week are taken from the gospel of John chapter 6. In that chapter, Jesus gives a long discourse on the bread of life. In fact in the gospel of John, Jesus seemed to be talking much more than in the other gospels. But Jesus is not just talking. In fact He is teaching a very important doctrine, especially when He uses phrases like “I tell you most solemnly”.

And He is not just talking about bread. Jesus is telling us that He is the bread of life. In the ancient world, bread was extremely important – it was a way of taking a crop that would otherwise not be edible and making it into nourishment for the body. There were few meals, if any, that lacked bread at the table. When Jesus tells us that He is the Bread of Life, He is inviting us to His table at every opportunity. He is telling us that He is our nutrition, our livelihood, the center of our being. Jesus is the Bread of Life: He sustains us day to day. He supports us moment to moment. And that goes without saying that at communion what we are receiving is not bread or just the host, but Jesus Himself. It is the Real Presence, and not a symbol, not a representation, not an imagination. Our reception of Holy Communion is a real encounter of Jesus the Risen Lord. Perhaps more important, He is the real bread of life – the Bread that leads to eternal life. And He has invited us to that eternal life in His banquet – the Eucharist. The Eucharist – body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ – is the center of our faith, the core of our being, and it is the real presence of Jesus Christ. He literally is the bread of eternal of life.

Seeking Jesus until one finds Him is a free gift which no one can obtain through his own efforts, although everyone should try to be well disposed to receiving it. The Magisterium of the Church has recalled this teaching in Vatican II: “Before this faith can be exercised, man must have the grace of God to move and assist him; he must have the interior help of the Holy Spirit, who moves the heart and converts it to God, who opens the eyes of the mind and makes it easy for all to accept and believe the truth. Each time we attend Mass, each time we turn to Him in prayer, we should do so with the certain knowledge that He is the All and the Everything of our existence. He is not only the central food, but He is The Meaning. Without Him we do not lack merely nutrition, we lack being. Let us then celebrate the Bread of Eternal Life, the Brother, the Savior, the Lord of Love.

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