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The bread of life discourse

Gospel Reading: Jn 6:52-59
The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his Flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you do not have life within you.

Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my Flesh is true food, and my Blood is true drink. Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.” These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.


The second part of the discourse on the Bread of Life (Jn 6:51-59) carries a Eucharistic theme: Jesus speaks of his Body (Flesh) and Blood which he invites the people to eat and drink that they may have life. This is the “living” bread, that is, the bread that gives life, in contrast with the manna that supported the wandering Israelites for 40 years in the desert but did not prevent them from dying. The living bread, too, is the bread that comes down from heaven, that is, Jesus, the Word of God become flesh. The manna, again in contrast, was “earthly”: material food that becomes rotten.

From “believing,” Jesus now requires human beings to “eat” and “drink.” The Bread come down from heaven at the Incarnation now gives his human life in death in order to give life to the world (cf Jn 3:16). Jesus’ gift of life will come at the expense of his own life. As eating human flesh and drinking human blood is abhorrent and strictly forbidden by the Law, Jesus meets it in the sacramental participation in the Eucharist where he gives himself as food and drink.

“Eucharistic communion was given so that we might be ‘sated’ with God here on earth, in expectation of our complete fulfillment in heaven” (St. John Paul II).

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SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.