Dear Friends in Jesus Christ…,
This is the third week we are asked to meditate on “Jesus the Bread of Life”. We read again this week Jesus saying “I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” One piece of advice I get from some of our parishioners is ‘do not get old’. None of us like to get old and sick. We all like to keep our youth. In today’s Gospel Jesus promises a fountain of youth claiming that those who eat the Bread from Heaven will live forever. Shortly after Columbus discovered America, rumors spread in Spain that the New World contained a fountain of youth. A sixteenth century Spanish explorer, Juan Ponce de Leon, first Governor of Puerto Rico, fitted a ship and sailed to America to search for this legendary fountain but never found it. Cocoon is a 1985 science-fiction fantasy comedy-drama film directed by Ron Howard about a group of elderly people rejuvenated by aliens. In the movie ‘Cocoon‘ there is a group of senior citizens who experienced a return to their youth when they bathed in a swimming pool used by aliens from another planet. Their exciting experience prompted them to accept an invitation from the aliens to go back with them to their planet. The senior citizens were told that once they reached the alien planet, they would live forever. Jesus is promising the same “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever” Jesus’ dialogue with the Jews no longer deals with manna, but with His very Person: the Revealer who brings us God’s salvation.
Although John’s Chapter 6 does not name the Holy Eucharist, Jesus’ words remind us of the centrality of the Eucharist as the primary source of our spiritual nourishment. Jesus knows quite well that we need both spiritual and physical food for life’s journey. He offers both to us. Thus, the meal that we share at the Eucharistic table provides the food for this journey (“viaticum”). Furthermore, He tells us that this Bread from Heaven is His Flesh, given for the life of the world. The Jews, as well as Jesus’ disciples, understood that he was speaking literally when he said that His Body was food. This statement appeared to some as outrageous and impossible. Later in the discourse, Jesus will insist that His words must be accepted literally, and that His Father will draw men to accept them. Hence let us accept Jesus as the Heavenly Bread, medicine for the sick soul, nourishment for a wounded spirit, light and strength for a weary mind and the source of new and eternal life.
Pope John Paul II taught: “The Eucharist is the Sacrament of the Presence of Christ, who gives himself to us because he loves us. He loves each one of us in a unique and personal way in our practical daily lives: in our families, among our friends, at study and work, in rest and relaxation. He loves us when he fills our days with freshness, and also when, in times of suffering, He allows trials to weigh upon us: even in the most severe trials, He lets us hear his voice. To celebrate the Eucharist, ‘to eat his Flesh and drink his Blood,’ means to accept the wisdom of the Cross and the path of service.
Jesus wants us to eat him because he IS Bread. “You are what you eat”…Jesus is Bread and he wants us to eat his Flesh. Thus, we bring him into the core of our being. He is ready to come into our lives, regardless of who we have been, or how unqualified we feel. Let us live the life of Faith…making changes so that He becomes the staple food of our spiritual life, not a side dish. Let us be people who recognize that Jesus, whom we consume, is actually God who assimilates us into His being. Then, from Sunday to Saturday we will grow into Jesus, as he grows in us, our lives will be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit, and we will become more like him. Thus, we shall share in the joyous and challenging life of being the Body of Christ for the world – Bread for a hungry world, and Drink for those who thirst for justice, peace, fullness of life, and even eternal life.
Let us pray, Lord Jesus, you are the living bread which sustains me in this life. May I always hunger for the bread which comes from heaven and find in it the nourishment I need to love and serve you wholeheartedly. May I always live in the joy, peace and unity of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit both now and in the age to come. Amen.
God Bless You,