Jesus preaches about the profound miracle that He wants us to consume for ourselves: He is the Bread that gives life to the world
Reflections on the readings for the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (August 1, 2021): EX 16:2-4,12-15; PS 78:3-4,23-24,25,54; EPH 4:17,20-24; JN 6:24-35
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Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to Me will never hunger, and whoever believes in Me will never thirst” (John 6:33-35).
Today’s Gospel according to St. John takes place among the same huge crowd of people who had been with Him on the previous day. On that day, they had witnessed the great miracle when Christ multiplied five loaves and two fish so that everyone had more than enough to eat. Now, they have followed Him to another town to hear what He will say and do. Our Lord tells them that He knows they came after Him because He fed them. He wants them to understand how much more He offers them than food to satisfy bodily hunger. He proclaims that He can offer them food for eternal life. But despite the miracle they had already seen – and eaten – for themselves, they call out for more proof. Our Lord must have been disappointed when they demanded still more signs, more wonders. He says that they need to have faith in Him. Yet they are still unable to believe and go on to remind Christ about the manna, “the bread from heaven,” that their ancestors received. And He, in turn, reminds them that it was not Moses, but His Father who supplied this food. “Jesus said to them… ‘The bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’ So they said to Him, ‘Sir, give us this bread always.’ Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to Me will never hunger, and whoever believes in Me will never thirst” (John 6:33-35).
Christ’s listeners must have been overwhelmed by all He told them. However, the idea that He Himself was the bread come down from heaven and the true bread of life was simply more than they could accept. Jesus’ words of wisdom and mercy, His miracles of generosity and healing, were still not enough for them. Ultimately, His followers would truly realize that He was the Son of God come to sacrifice His life – and share His very being with them. Only then would people believe that He was the great gift of the Father for the salvation of the whole world.