Ex 16: 2-4, 12-15,
Ps 78: 3-4, 23- 25,
Eph 4: 17, 20-24,
Jn 6: 24-35
JESUS SAID “I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE”
After the spectacular miracle of the multiplication of the loaves, Jesus engages in personal dialogue with the people who continued to follow him. He noticed their keen interest in him and even noticed their desire to make him king. Jesus knew their thoughts and motivations. It was a challenge for them to
go beyond the material and the physical.
While they were just interested in the bread that filled their bellies, Jesus was slowly making them realize that there is a kind of bread that can satisfy the hunger of their souls, and will give them eternal life: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst”. Many people are like the Jews in the Gospel.
They have short-sighted eyes of the spirit. They only see, or better still, they would like only to see, the material and the physical, the here and now. Anything beyond that is not anymore of interest to them.
“I am the bread of life.” Here Jesus is not talking about the physical bread that the people ate during the multiplication of the loaves. He is talking about himself. This is just like his conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well. He was offering her “water welling up to eternal life” (Jn 4:14). The living water is not any physical water, but Jesus himself.
Therefore, Jesus offers himself as the food and drink for our spiritual nourishment so that we will not hunger and thirst anymore. It is an invitation to faith in Jesus: “Whoever comes to me will never hunger. Whoever believes in me will never thirst.” A person who has everything in this world, but without faith in Jesus, continues to be “hungry” and “thirsty” for more of this world’s goods. There is no end to his hunger and thirst; there is no contentment, and there is no happiness in life.
On the other hand, a person may be lacking in material things, but if he has faith in Jesus, he has peace and happiness in life, for he has Jesus who is the food and water for eternal life. Such is the experience of all the saints. Just as physical bread, like the manna in the desert, sustains our physical life, so also Jesus, “the bread of life”, sustains us unto eternal life. It is Jesus alone who can truly satisfy us, and we will never thirst and hunger anymore. He is everything in our life.
It is truly amazing how people can be so blinded when it comes to the things of the Kingdom. The people were looking but they could not see. They were looking for Jesus because they needed something from him. They were interested in him only in their time of needs and difficulties. They failed to see Jesus as the compassionate God who is always with his people at every moment of their lives.
The people were looking for a sign from Jesus: “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you?” What they failed to see was that Jesus himself is already the sign. He is the sacrament of the Father: “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” He is the Word of God present in our midst. Faith is our spiritual sight. So long as our faith is weak, we will never see the abiding presence of God in our midst. We will only see the physical and the temporal, that is, the passing realities, and therefore, the non-essential things in life. We cannot see the eternal and lasting, and therefore, essential realities in life.
What do we learn from these;
1. Materialism is the most potent weapon of the devil. He has lured many souls to hell by using money and material wealth. It is so attractive and powerful that even bishops and priests are not immune to it. When money enters the door of our soul, Christian principles are thrown out of the window. That is why Jesus warned us: “You cannot serve both God and money.”
2. Faith in Jesus gives us eternal life, for he is “the bread of life.” We should be alarmed at the number of Catholics abandoning their Christian faith. Losing faith in Jesus is tantamount to losing salvation. Jesus said: “No one comes to the Father except through me.” This is already what is meant by sin against the Holy Spirit – total loss of faith or apostasy. It cannot be forgiven, simply because the person does not anymore believe in Jesus and in the sacraments, and that apostate will never ask for forgiveness.
3. The most miserable person in the world is the one who is already rich, but continues to hunger for more. He is like a person who is always chasing his shadow. He does not know when to stop, when to say enough is enough. He becomes the slave of money. And since money and material wealth are ephemeral realities, when these things pass away, or when he himself passes away, he is left with absolutely nothing. He is truly foolish and miserable. We should not envy them. Rather, let us learn to count our blessings, be contented with them, and use them properly and wisely. God provides. That is the way to be truly happy.