Jesus He Himself is the Bread of life, a bread that is far superior to the bread that satisfies our stomachs only for a short time.


 

A famous Roman poet and satirist, Juvenal, once wrote that common people are not really interested in freedom, but only in “bread and circuses,” that is, food and entertainment. That was true in second-century Rome as well as the people of today.  It was certainly true for these crowds that pursued Jesus all the way across the lake, looking for more of that delicious bread He had provided the day before. Jesus chided them for longing only to feed their stomachs, when He had much more to give them of the spiritual bread of eternal life. When they asked Him what they could do to accomplish the works of God, He told them bluntly, “This is the work of God: that you believe in the one He sent.”

Today’s Gospel follows John’s account of the multiplying of the five loaves and two fish which we heard last week. The word spreads and though Jesus and His shipmates have sailed to the other side of the sea, those who had eaten their fill follow Him. This can sound wonderful; He is gaining new followers. When they meet up with Jesus, He offers them their truth. They were following, but not in the same sense, as He desired. They came to see if He were handing out more bread or doing something else for their enjoyment. They failed to see the bread as ”Sign”, but merely as a crusty “thing”.

Jesus talks to us about being the bread of life – our food. He tells us that in Him we will find not only food for this life’s journey, but the promise of eternal life. The crowds who followed Jesus were like many of us; they recognized there was something special about Jesus, but if they were to follow Him, they also wanted some reassurance. So they asked Him “What sign will you yourself do…?” The sign that Jesus gave was Himself, “the bread which gives life to the world”.
Jesus He Himself is the Bread of life, a bread that is far superior to the bread that satisfies our stomachs only for a short time. He affirms that this precious gift from the Father is of no avail unless we have faith, and truly believe. We must get rid of any indifference, doubt, or skepticism about the words of Jesus, and just abandon our minds and hearts to unqualified acceptance. God the Father has sent us Jesus from heaven to be our food, our strength, our hope, and our joy in living. Nothing else in life can surpass this Bread of Life. The Israelites died after eating delicious manna and quail from the skies, and so will we die after acquiring all earthly food, including knowledge, money, success, and other earthly treasure. God’s life-giving Bread has in it the power of eternal life, but it will nourish only those who truly believe.

Before we approach the altar at Mass again to receive this precious gift, let us stir up in our hearts full assent to what we proclaim at the Creed, “We believe!” Without faith, we may receive into our bodies the true Body and Blood of the Son of God, but we will never know the full transforming effects we should desire so earnestly.As followers of Jesus, we need to think about whether our lives are a sign of our discipleship. If we say we believe, but do not behave as if we do, we are not true witnesses. If we truly believe that we are all made in God’s image, then our attitude to all our sisters and brothers must reflect this.

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