Gospel – John 6:41-51
“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 on the Gospel
Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.
In verses 36-40, the verse between last Sunday’s gospel reading and today’s reading, Jesus continues to direct his disciples to the central question of faith in him: “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life and I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:40) A deeper sense of seeing is involved here, not only physically but with the eyes of faith. Once again the focus is not on the loaves and fishes but on faith in Jesus.
In today’s reading we see the Jews murmuring as Jesus reminds them of their mothers and fathers murmuring against Moses in the desert (Exodus 16:1-3 and Numbers 11:1-3). They cannot accept the fact that he can be both from God and from Nazareth (John 1:43-46). Jesus ignores their question and continues with his discourse. If they open their hearts to God, God will draw them to Jesus. This movement of their hearts by the Father will empower them to believe in Jesus and to possess eternal life – again referring back to the prologue: “No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side has revealed him (John 1:18).” Jesus is the one who makes the Father known. Because this is the case, the one who believes in Jesus, the true bread from heaven, will have eternal life. As the comparison of the two breads comes to a close, Jesus recalls the experience of Israel’s ancestors who ate the manna that came down from heaven but they all died. Jesus continues, “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. Notice that Jesus says this bread is for the life of the world, i.e. all people, not reserved only for those who believe. The Johannine celebration of the Eucharist lies behind the key expressions in this chapter: bread, flesh, eat, give. Eventually his body will be given over in crucifixion for the life of the world.
In his reflection on this Chapter De La Salle says:
Is it possible the Jesus Christ himself promises that you will live with an eternal life by eating this bread, which is God himself, and that you do not want to eat it, or to eat it only rarely? Taste and see how good this bread is for you, how pleasing it is to your taste and beneficial to your soul (MD 48:3)
As a Christian educator how do you teach your students this remarkable truth?
How deep is your faith in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist?
How frequently do you nourish your spirituality by celebrating Eucharist in the fraternity of the Church with your sisters and brothers?
Brother Malachy Broderick, FSC
St. John’s College Community
Saint John Baptist de La Salle – Pray for us.
Live, Jesus, in our hearts – Forever.