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The bread of life discourse

Gospel Reading: Jn 6:41-51

The Jews murmured about Jesus because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven,” and they said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother? Then how can he say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Stop murmuring among yourselves. 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: Bread come down from heaven

After they had settled in Canaan, the land promised to their fathers, the Israelites would look back with awe at the gift of manna that was their ancestors’ bread during the desert wandering. Manna appeared as fine flakes, like hoarfrost that appeared on the ground after the layer of dew about the camp would evaporate (cf Ex 16:13-14). Because it was a gift from the Lord, it was referred to as bread rained down from heaven (cf Ex 16:4). It was also called “the bread of the angels” (Ps 78:25). But wonderful though the manna might have been, the Israelites would get tired of it as their usual “menu.”

Jesus now claims that he is “the bread that came down from heaven.” For the Jews in the synagogue of Capernaum, this is a preposterous claim. Is he some kind of angel or heavenly being come down to earth? The crowd is quite sure that there is nothing mysterious about his origin: Jesus hails from Nazareth from where, according to Nathanael, nothing good is expected to come (cf Jn 1:46). He is simply Yeshua Bar-Iosef (Jesus, the son of Joseph), the son of a carpenter. How then can he say that he came down from heaven, from God himself?

John’s community knows the mystery that surrounds the person of Jesus of Nazareth. As the Logos (Word), he had a pre-existence with God from the beginning. He came into the world to give life, to empower human beings to become children of God. He gives himself as “bread” so that those who believe in him may have eternal life.

Jesus, God-Incarnate, is the answer to all human need and longing. To the lost, he is the Good Shepherd; to the blind, he is the Light of the world; to the dead, he is the Resurrection and the Life; to the thirsty, he offers Living Water; and to the hungry, he is the Bread of Life.

Let us heed the Psalmist’s invitation: “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps 34:9).

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SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2018,” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: books@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.

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