At this, because he said, “I am the Bread that came down from heaven,” the Jews started arguing over him: “Isn’t this the son of Joseph? Don’t we know his father? Don’t we know his mother? How can he now say, ‘I came down out of heaven’ and expect anyone to believe him?”
Jesus said, “Don’t bicker among yourselves over me. You’re not in charge here. The Father who sent me is in charge. He draws people to me—that’s the only way you’ll ever come. Only then do I do my work, putting people together, setting them on their feet, ready for the End. This is what the prophets meant when they wrote, ‘And then they will all be personally taught by God.’ Anyone who has spent any time at all listening to the Father, really listening and therefore learning, comes to me to be taught personally—to see it with his own eyes, hear it with his own ears, from me, since I have it firsthand from the Father. No one has seen the Father except the One who has his Being alongside the Father—and you can see me.
“I’m telling you the most solemn and sober truth now: Whoever believes in me has real life, eternal life. I am the Bread of Life. Your ancestors ate the manna bread in the desert and died. But now here is Bread that truly comes down out of heaven. Anyone eating this Bread will not die, ever. I am the Bread—living Bread!—who came down out of heaven. Anyone who eats this Bread will live—and forever! The Bread that I present to the world so that it can eat and live is myself, this flesh-and-blood self.”
Lord we may not grumble out loud about the difficulties we have in taking you at your word but you see our often haphazard living. So often we take you for granted and become too familiar with you, our Bread of Life. Help us to really know you and be stirred by our deep personal encounter with you, so that our daily lives become lived and not merely endured. Let us be awakened to the joy of living the gift of life that we have.
Did you ever suffer from comments about how you had changed and matured to the amazement of people who knew you when you were a lot younger? It is surprising how limited we are in our expectations of what education and experience can do for all of us as we find our potential.
So in today’s Gospel I feel an empathy with Jesus, since people who knew him were surprised at his teaching and they grumbled about him, which translates in my own words as, “who does he think he is?” I had not really noticed this word ‘grumbled’ in this section of the gospel before but see it is used twice in a short section. Jesus, as always, cuts straight to the chase telling the crowd to stop grumbling and then surely astounds them even more when he launches into a huge explanation of what it means when he says he has come down from heaven and is the Bread of life.
The connection with the Passover in this Gospel passage and all the religious memory that this evokes for the Jewish people is very strong too. The message for us today is perhaps contained in the words, “I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate manna in the desert, but they died... I am the living bread if anyone eats this bread he will live forever.” The manna provided for the Jews newly escaped from Egypt was a result of their grumbling to Moses... In our society today do we also grumble about life? Do we grumble in our hearts about the real meaning of Jesus and his promise of eternal life? Do we grumble as we face our limitedness and our corporality? Faith in Jesus and in Him as the living bread that gives eternal life is a huge challenge. It is not easy during our short lives, to grow in belief in Jesus at a deep and personal level. Are we just drifting in our faith or is it alive and active? How well do we know Jesus, are we still astounded at his teaching? Do we even hear it in our hearts and respond? What does it mean to us that Jesus is the Bread of life?
Sr Patricia Devine FMA - Salesian Sister