John 6: 41-51
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.”
This Gospel begins with the Pharisees murmuring about Jesus. They were arguing about his statement: “I am the bread come down from heaven.” They looked at one another and said: “He is not from heaven. This man is Joseph’s and Mary’s son. How can we believe the fantastic claims he is making? Why is he saying: ‘I have come down from heaven’?” And they refused to believe him.
Finally, Jesus responded to them. He bluntly told them to stop murmuring among themselves. Jesus then said to them: “No one can come to me unless my Father draws them. If they respond to my Father’s call, I will raise them up on the last day.” Jesus also says that if a person listens to the Father and learns from Him, they will come to Him. It is understandable why the Jews were murmuring about Jesus. He does sound a bit “out of his head.”
Jesus, however, does not stop there. He then tells his listeners: “I am the bread of life. It is true that our ancestors ate manna in the desert. However, I am the living bread come down from heaven! Anyone who eats this ‘bread’ will never die.” The people listening to Jesus were scandalized! After all, who was he to make such fantastic claims? True, he was a powerful preacher but how could he be “the bread of life?” And then Jesus goes one step further and says: “The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”
How would you respond if you heard a person making these claims? We automatically might categorize them as a ‘nut case’ or a religious fanatic. However, we never know when, how or through what individual, Jesus may come to us. After all, Jesus is the “living” bread. He has power far beyond our imagination. The reality is: he is always with us! However, we are not always aware of his presence.
Today I invite you to be awake and alert. Jesus, our “bread from heaven,” may appear to us in strange or unusual ways. Or he may appear to us in the daily: disguised in a friend, an unexpected helping hand or in the quiet of the morning. Keep your eyes, ears, mind and heart open and alert. Don’t want to miss him! What a loss that would be!