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Sunday, August 5, 2012

John Chapter 6 - The Bread of Life - John 6:24-35

John 6:24-35
 The Bread of Life
Whoever comes to me will never hunger,
and whoever believes in me will never thirst
(John 6: 35)

The term bread was commonly used by the Jewish people of the Old Testament when describing many of life’s everyday circumstances.  The “bread of tears” expressed suffering (Psalm 80:6); “the bread of idleness” illustrated laziness (Proverbs 31:27); and sinners were said to “eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.” (Proverbs 4:17)  It would not be unusual for Jesus to use this term in his sermons as he does in John 6, where he describes himself as the Bread of Life.  To the Jewish ear this would place Jesus as the key, so to speak, to the meaning of life.  

In today’s Gospel from John 6:24-35, we hear that the crowd who had been present at the miracle of the loaves and fishes, after having eaten their fill, decided to pursue Jesus across the sea to Capernaum.  Not having witnessed Jesus “walking on the sea,” (John 6:19) they asked, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”  To which Jesus answered, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled.  Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal, life, which the Son of Man will give you.”   The people inquired, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?”  To which Jesus answered, “Believe in the one he sent.” (John 6:25-29)  A seemly simple request, all the people had to do is believe.  But we all know how difficult this is when we do not “see the signs.” Like the crowd gathered that day, as much as I dislike to admit, I too am constantly looking for "that sign" to prop up my faith. 

Yesterday, these same people had witnessed a miracle performed by Jesus.  After they “saw the sign he had done, they said, “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.”” (John 6:14)  Less than 24 hours later these same people ask Jesus, “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you?  What can you do?” (John 6:30)

Wasn’t yesterday’s miracle good enough?  Adding more fuel to the fire the people continue by reminding Jesus that Moses was able to provide manna in the desert.  They wanted to know what Jesus could do that would compare?  What kind of sign did these people need?  Feeding 5000 with 5 barley loaves and 2 fish and having twelve baskets left over wasn’t good enough. How often have I acted exactly like these people?  More often than I would like to admit.  How often does God show me signs only for me to turn around and dismiss them?  More often than I would like to admit. 

Jesus’ response to the peoples request for a sign like that of Moses feeding the people manna in the desert, “Amen, amen, I say to you it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.  For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”  (John 6:32-33)

That's it, Jesus has proclaimed the key to the meaning of life, the Bread of God is what gives life to the world, and the people want this bread.  But they don't quite yet understand what it is.  “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: 35)

The Bread of Life Discourse which begins with a conversation between Jesus and the Jewish people could just as easily have been a conversation between Jesus and any one of us.  Jesus speaks of the food that endures to eternal life which the Son of man will give them if they but only believe in him.  But the Jews, much like myself, want yet another sign.  What will it take to simply just believe? 
In today’s Gospel, Jesus sets the table, so to speak, for His Bread of Life Discourse, when he proclaims, "whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst."  The manna provided by the Father in Heaven to the Jews in the wilderness was a prefigurement, a sign, of the new and everlasting covenant God would make with his people through the saving gift of his son Jesus, the True Bread from Heaven. Come and believe.
Forgive me Lord when I do not see
your goodness right in front of me.
Open my eyes to see,
my ears to hear,
and my heart to feel.
Help my unbelief and let me believe
that I might draw closer to you.  Amen 
Part Three John Chapter 6:41-51

For gift items related to the Catholic Church Please visit
Lynn's Timeless Treasures 
Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes - James Tissot
Jesus Teaches from the Ship - James Tissot
Sermon on the Beatitudes - James Tissot

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