Yesterday and today’s Gospel reading for John are laying the groundwork for the discourse of Jesus to come. In yesterday’s account, Jesus shared with the people who gathered about him, the people who had already received the miraculous multiplication of bread, that they were not to “work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life” and Jesus also shared that they were to “believe in the one [God] sent” (see Jn 6:27-29).
In today’s account, the people are asking for a sign, just as Moses gave to their ancestors in the desert. Jesus reminds them that his Father had given them the bread from heaven, and also added: “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” (Jn 6:32-33). Certainly, this offer is appealing, and so the people not only want some of this bread also, they want an endless supply of it. Now Jesus moves from the subtle foundation he has been building to the core structure of his point: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst” (Jn 6:35).
Jesus encouraged his listeners to pursue the food that “endures for eternal life” to believe in the one his Father sent, then he shares how his Father gives them the true bread from heaven “for the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Jesus is the one his listeners are to build their relationship with, for he is the very presence in their midst. Jesus is the promise of eternal life. Jesus is the one sent by his Father to give life to the world. Jesus is the bread of life!
We are a living craving, hunger, and desire to be one with God and each other, and this is true for the atheist and the believer alike. That which God has created, he has created good, but the material and finite will not fulfill us. We, in short order, experience the limitations of the finite and seek something more. This is how we are wired, because ultimately, our deepest desire, that which we seek to fulfill us, is eternal. The One to satisfy this eternal hunger which we can never exhaust is the bread of life, Jesus Christ.
Do we believe this to be true? Do we believe that Jesus is the bread of life, that he is the source and sustenance, the very foundation of our being and existence? During this time when so many are not able to receive the Eucharist because of the mandate against public gatherings, could this be a time to ignite again our hunger for the food that does not perish?
If we have been caught up: in the business of life, in the mere existence or survival mode of the day to day, in our sin, addiction, brokenness or disillusionment, or if we feel like we are just running on empty. If we have just taken this reality for granted, then let us “believe in the one who God sent”, commit or recommit our selves, our very life to the one who is our source and sustainer, Jesus, the Bread of Life. This is why we are an Alleluia people and ought to radiate joy even in our present situation.
Painting: Portrait of Christ, The Savior, Heinrich Hofmann, 1894