What is our goal as Christians? To live forever!
Jesus in the Gospel of John today, provides the ideal diet - His own Body and Blood! A guarantee with unlimited warranty!
Jesus had fed more than 5000 people on the eastern shore of Galilee. They did not realize that the feeding itself was a spectacular sign pointing to something much deeper than the material bread they enjoyed. They even wanted to make Him King! But He knew that they were after Him only because they had their fill of loaves and fish, and wanted more.
This calls to mind the Israelites in the wilderness enroute to the Promised Land, who were not a very co-operative lot. As we saw from last Sunday’s reflections, they had even built a golden calf. In the desert, they were hungry, and in response to their aggressive demand for food, God supplied manna (bread from heaven, actual translation in Hebrew- ‘What is it’).
Coming back to today’s Gospel, the people were not satisfied with the sign of the loaves and fish. They did not believe that it was a sign that Jesus was the Messiah; so they asked for another sign. They probably thought, ‘What you did yesterday was merely to give us bread and fish - common, everyday food. There is nothing unusual about bread and fish, although multiplying it was a bit out of the ordinary. But Moses fed our fathers forty years on manna. Bread and fish come from the earth, but manna comes from heaven. What are you going to do to top that?’
Obviously they were wrong in their thinking! Manna was not given by Moses, but by God. Moreover, it was not the true bread from heaven -- it was only a symbol, a picture, and a faint shadow of the real thing. The real bread from heaven is Jesus! He came down from heaven, sent of the Father, to feed the restless hunger of the masses for meaning and fulfillment and satisfaction and excitement and glory in their lives. The true bread is He who came down from heaven who will give His life, not merely for Israel, as Moses did with the manna, but who will give His life for the whole world.
Jesus says, "The bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh" (6:51b)…. "For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed" (6:55)… "Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. (V 56)"
Jesus is speaking literally and sacramentally. But the Jews were greatly disturbed by these words. Those marvelous words represented what was apparently a very offensive statement to the Jews. The crowd was thinking of cannibalism, i.e., the sin of eating a human corpse, an idea thoroughly repugnant to them (Deut 28:53). This was most offensive to Jews because they had been taught all through the centuries that God did not want flesh in which there remained any blood.
In these words our Lord reveals the absolute necessity for receiving His life. If you do not have this, you are on a temporary slide into ultimate corruption and total death. The most you can do is merely preserve life for a while, hold it at arm's length, but death is inevitable unless you know the One who gives life. This was unacceptable and difficult to understand and many of His disciples left Him.
Today’s psalm praises God - the One who gives life, who blesses and strengthens, who feeds His people and has power over all His creation. He is the ultimate provider.
Is He all you need? Is He YOUR Bread of Life? Is this a diet good enough to shape you up to be a true Christian and bring you eternal life?
As the Catholic Church celebrates today the Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, also known as the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, we are called to focus our attention on the Eucharist and the Real Presence of Christ in it. St. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians, says that we are called to share in the Body of Christ, the Bread of life, and since there is only one bread, we who are partakers of this One Bread, become one Body in Christ too. Similarly, when we drink His blood, we enter into a blood relationship with Him; His blood flowing in our veins, making us God’s sons and daughters.
If you had been there the day Jesus preached the Bread of Life sermon would you have walked away, or would you have echoed Peter’s words, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God”.