The Gospel of John, Chapter 6:51 reads, "I am the living bread come down from heaven; he who eats this bread will live forever."
Today’s post goes to the heart of the Christian message, that Jesus is the living bread of life satisfying our spiritual hunger.
The folks in today’s Gospel who sought out Jesus were led to him not by their faith, but by their stomachs. The crowd was looking for a handout, a bellyful of bread. They did not understand that the eating of the loaves of bread Jesus gave them was a sign of a far greater partaking. They were hungry, plain and simple, and they wanted bread. Jesus loses no time moving the crowd to recognize a deeper sort of hunger.
He speaks to them of lasting bread, bread that nourishes not just life, but life eternal. Thinking that they had to fast or do some "work" to get this bread, the people ask what they must do? Jesus tells them to believe in him.
This was not the answer the folks expected, so they ask Jesus for a sign that would earn their faith such as the manna God sent their forebears. Jesus then explains that the manna was but perishable bread. The bread He brings is imperishable, the true bread come from God. The people, still not understanding, jump at Jesus' offer. Then Jesus delivers the punch line of his message, "I am the living bread come down from heaven; he who eats this bread will live forever."
And the people? They still did not recognize that the Messiah for whom they had been waiting for generations to see is standing before them. We keep making the same mistake. When someone presents you with the host at mass and says, “The Body of Christ,” remember, this is the bread you have been waiting for. This bread is the bread of life.
Before we eat the bread that is the Body of Christ, we say "Amen." This is more than a verbal declaration of faith. It is a pledge that says, "Yes." I will be the Body of Christ for others. I will be like this living bread. I will be a person for others!
When Jesus instituted the Eucharist at the last supper as the new covenant to replace the Jewish Passover, what did he do? He washed the feet of his disciples to teach them a lesson: they must serve one another; they must love one another the way he loved us, especially the least among us. "Whatsoever you do," he says, "to the least of my people, that you do unto me."
Understand this when you receive the Eucharist. You cannot receive the body of Christ at mass, worthily, unless you see Christ in your brothers and sisters.
Recognize that you are promising to be like Christ whom you have received.
Fr. Hugh Duffy holds a Ph.D. from the University of Hull, England. Born in Donegal, Ireland, he was ordained in 1966 in Dublin, Ireland. He is pastor emeritus of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Okeechobee, Florida, where he served for 30 years and built a new Church, debt-free, in 2013. He founded Christian Community Action (CCA) in Ireland that built housing for seniors, a sheltered workshop and bakery for people with disabilities, a community center, and an addiction treatment center. Since 2013 he has traveled across America as an Outreach Priest for Cross Catholic Outreach, Inc. Duffy’s recent book, "What is This Thing Called Faith?" is a collection of meditations with reflections for readers on the sayings of Jesus. For more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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