I am the living bread which has come down from heaven.


 

The Gospel today deals with a doubting audience, shocked and critical of Jesus’ claim to have come down from heaven as the Bread of Life. Despite the miracles they had witnessed, and the words of wisdom, preached with such convincing authority, they could not go the extra step to accept His claim. At last, Jesus reveals His power to give eternal life. What an incredible opportunity! But they refused it.

If we are honest, do we recognize ourselves in that crowd? How often do we judge people by their race, the amount of money they earn, their religion, their lack of formal education? Those things can close our ears and blind our eyes to the goodness and the potential of our sisters and brothers. If, as Christians we do this, then we are refusing to hear the gospel; we are not witnessing to the universal love and respect of God for all people.

We read Jesus introduces a new element into His “ Bread of Life” discourse. He equates the bread of life with His flesh, the flesh that He will give for the life of the world. Jesus’ choice of words is deliberate, for it makes crystal clear the meaning of His discourse. Jesus intends the phrase “bread of life” to have a much more particular meaning. In fact, He identifies the phrase with His flesh, His corporeal flesh and blood. When He says that His flesh will be given for the life of the world, Jesus is referring to His Body being nailed to the cross, His Blood being poured out in the perfect sacrifice of Calvary.

There can be no doubt that these words point to both His sacrificial death and to the Holy Eucharist, the means by which His sacrifice would be represented on altars around the world until He comes in glory.

So without judging Jesus’ listeners at that time too harshly, may we stir in our hearts deep gratitude for our faith in the Real Presence of Jesus, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, which we have as Catholics. Our reaction should be an awestruck “Thank you!” Jesus promises: “I Myself am the Living Bread come down from heaven. If anyone eats this Bread he shall live forever; the bread I will give is My flesh, for the life of the world”

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