Tag Archives: Bread of Life

Does This Shock You?

“Does this shock you?”
John 6:60-69 in a couplet 
Sunday of the Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time
Related posts: Lent, Day 11, Easter, Day 17, Easter, Day 18, Easter, Day 19, Easter, Day 20, Easter, Day 21,
I AM the Bread of Life, Abba, Draw Us to Your Son
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.”

As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

John 6:60-69

Abba, Draw Us to Your Son

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him”
John 6:41-51 in a prayer couplet
Sunday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Related posts: Easter, Day 19 (John 6:51), I AM the Bread of Life (John 6:35)
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

The Jews murmured about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven,” and they said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother? Then how can he say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Stop murmuring among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day. It is written in the prophets:

‘They shall all be taught by God.’

Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 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.”

John 6:41-51

Bread of Shalom

Christina DeMichele, Christ Enthroned in His Creation (Used with permission)

Thursday of the Third Week of Easter

John 6:44-51

The Jews murmured about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven,” and they said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother? Then how can he say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”

John 6:41-42

Unless Jesus was who he claimed to be, his statements were certainly wild and preposterous. From a natural perspective, the son of Joseph and Mary, born in a particular place and time, was destined to live and die like all human beings. Nothing about Jesus’ appearance suggested that he was a heavenly being.

Jesus answered and said to them, “Stop murmuring among yourselves.

John 6:43

The new Moses echoed his predecessor by chiding the children of Israel for murmuring and grumbling just at the time when God promised manna in the desert (Exodus 16:2; 7-8; LXX—same verb as in John 6:43).

“Whoever comes to me will never hunger,” Jesus said (John 6:35), but

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day.

John 6:44

Like a chain of magnets, the uncreated person of the Father draws all created persons to himself through the uncreated person of his Son, including all flesh (sarx) and the cosmos (kosmos).

And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.”

John 12:32

Creation has an in-built force of attraction towards her LORD and Maker. In the beginning (Genesis 1:1), the shalom of God filled the heavens and the earth. Shalom means wholeness and completeness through communion with the LORD God, the basis of integral peace. In a shalom-filled world, all creatures move gracefully in synergy with the Spirit of God.

It is written in the prophets:
‘They shall all be taught by God.’
Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me.

John 6:45

Jesus quoted Isaiah 54:13:

All your children shall be taught by the Lord;
great shall be the peace (shalom) of your children.

Isaiah 54:13; LXX

Like the second Adam, the first Adam in the Garden of Eden enjoyed an unmediated sonship in the Father, “walking” (halak) and talking with him in familiarity and intimacy. Yet only the uncreated Son “sees” (horaó) the Father in his plenitude exceeding the capacity of finite creatures. God alone “comprehends” God.

Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father.

John 6:46

Not by vision but by faith, the children of God are drawn up to the Father through the Son.

Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.

John 6:47

Believing (pisteuó) goes far deeper than having right ideas about God and religion. Many who had a formidable knowledge of Scripture and theology did not believe Jesus. Only a genuine personal encounter leads to faith (pistis, the noun form of pisteuó). 

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 (zaó) bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live (zaó) forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh (sarx) for the life (zóé) of the world (kosmos).”

John 6:48-51

Manna was provisional and a pointer to the tree of life to come from Abraham and Adam. The repetition of zóé (noun) and zaó (verb) which are cognate recall the words of the LORD God about the tree of life:

Now, what if he also reaches out his hand to take fruit from the tree of life (zóé), and eats of it and lives (zaó) forever?

Genesis 3:22; LXX

The Greek Septuagint version matches the words of Christ in the Gospel of John concerning the bread from heaven that bestows eternal life. Zóé in the Greek lexical universe indicates the fullness of life beyond mere physical existence, in fact, participation in the divine life. It is sharply distinguished from bios or biological, earthly existence. 

The original Hebrew word for life in Genesis 3:22, chay, includes divine, human, animal, and vegetative life as a whole—a concept that resonates with shalom. The Hebrew mind did not make the sharp distinctions between spirit and matter that characterized Hellenistic philosophy. In the beginning—bereshit, the opening word of the Torah in Genesis 1:1God, Adam, and the cosmos were one.

Restoration of shalom encompasses heaven and earth, all flesh and the cosmos. The eating and drinking Jesus risen in the flesh epitomizes shalom. Every division is overcome in the Father, through the Son, and by the Holy Spirit. 

-GMC

Bread of Life

John “came to the tomb first, and he saw and believed” (John 20:8).

Wednesday of the Third Week of Easter

John 6:35-40

Egō eimi ho artos tēs zōēs. I AM the Bread of Life. 

After the miracle of the loaves and fishes, Jesus revealed his divine identity in the form of an I AM statement, hearkening back to the revelation of God’s name to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:14; LXX). 

Food, the fundamental need of all sentient flesh, was the chief catalyst in the protological trial of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. A desire for something more that would satisfy a mysterious longing drove them to partake of the forbidden fruit. Brokenness, division, and unquenchable hunger and thirst followed in its wake. Toiling for food from cursed ground became Adam’s lot as he and his progeny entered the treadwheel of “dust to dust” (Genesis 3:19).

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger…

John 6:35

The first persons who “come” (erchomai) and seek Jesus in the New Testament are the Magi:

“Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.”

Matthew 2:2

The chief priests and the scribes, quoting Micah 5:1(2), informed King Herod that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, which means “house of bread” (Matthew 2:6). 

…and whoever believes in me will never thirst.

John 6:35

“Believe me,” Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well.

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

John 4:13-14

The verb “believe” (pisteuó) is deeply personal, involving trust and surrender to the Word of God who is “true” (aléthinos, “made of truth;” see John 6:32). 

But I told you that although you have seen [me], you do not believe.

John 6:36

“Seeing” (horaó) and “believing” (pisteuó) involve more than the retina. The Magi “saw” the star and the child, and worshipped him (Matthew 2:10-11). John the Beloved came (erchomai) to the empty tomb, and saw (horaó) and believed (pisteuó) (John 20:8). 

Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me…

John 6:37 

What does it mean to “give” (didómi) in the eternal Godhead of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Jesus repeated this verb over and over again during the Last Supper Discourse:

When Jesus had said this, he raised his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your son, so that your son may glorify you, just as you gave him authority over all people, so that he may give eternal life to all you gave him. Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ. I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do. Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began.

“I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you gave me is from you, because the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours…

John 17:1-9

Something or someone “given” (didómi) is a precious gift from one person to another. The Father has entrusted “everything” (pas) to the Son, and the Son will not “cast out” or “reject” (ekballo) any who come (erchomai) to him (John 6:37).

Jesus finally enfolds the “all” and “everything” (pas) given to him in the glory of the Triune Love.

and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them.

John 17:10

In the Bread of Life discourse, which harmonizes with the Last Supper Discourse (where bread is broken), Jesus constantly attributes the origin of his mission to the Father.

because I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me. And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it [on] the last day.

John 6:38-39

The Father and the Son act with a single, divine will. Human free will comes into play in both bread discourses as Jesus mourns the possibility of “losing” (apollumi) any of those given to him. 

When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me, and I guarded them, and none of them was lost except the son of destruction, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled.

John 17:12

The mystery of free will is… a mystery…

For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him [on] the last day.”

John 6:38-39

The Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, the Magi, St. John and all the saints who “came,” “saw,” and “believed” are shining guideposts in our journey to Bethlehem, the “house of bread.”

-GMC

Weekday Readings: Third Week of Easter


Monday Acts 6,8-15; John 6,22-29
Tuesday Acts 7,58-8,1; John 6,30=35
Wednesday Acts 8,1-8; John 6,35-40
Thursday Acts 8,26-40; John 6,44-51
Friday Acts 9,1-20; John 6,52-59
Saturday Acts 9,31-42; John 6,60-69

The Mass readings this week continue from the Acts of the Apostles with the story of the Greek-speaking deacon Stephen. His fiery preaching against temple worship and “stiff-necked” Jewish opposition to Jesus results in his death and a persecution that drives Hellenist Christians out of Jerusalem. (Monday and Tuesday) But Stephen’s death, like the death of Jesus, brings new life. The church grows. “The death of Christians is the seed of Christianity.” (Tertullian )

Philip the Deacon, one of those displaced, preaches to the Samaritans north of Jerusalem. Then, led by the Spirit, he converts the Ethiopian eunuch returning home after his pilgrimage to Jerusalem. (Wednesday and Thursday} Following Philip’s activity, Paul, the persecutor, is converted by Jesus himself. (Friday)

Before Paul’s ministry begins, Peter leaves Jerusalem to bless the new Christian communities near the coast; at Joppa he’s told by God to meet the Roman centurion in Caesarea Maritima. The mission to the gentile world begins with that meeting. (Saturday)

Stephen, Philip, Peter and Paul serve God’s mysterious plan. It’s not human planning. The Holy Spirit is at work.

The gospel readings this week are from St.John’s gospel– segments of Jesus’ long discourse on the Bread of Life to the crowd at Capernaum after the miracle of the loaves. (John 6) In the Eucharist we meet the Risen Christ.  He not only feeds us personally, but a growing church is fed.

The Bread of Christ

bread wine
Besides being one body, the Body of Christ, we are also one Bread in him. When we celebrate the Eucharist, we listen first to God’s word and then offer bread and wine. The prayer over the bread points to its meaning:

“Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the bread we offer you; fruit of the earth and work of human hands, it will become for us the bread of life.”

We receive the bread, “fruit of the earth and work of human hands,” from our Creator. St. Augustine calls the bread we pray for in the Lord’s Prayer and the bread we offer at Mass “the bread of everything.” The gift of everything is acknowledged at Mass through the bread and wine; we’re blessed with everything, we’re reminded, and through them, we give thanks to the God of goodness for it all. “What do you have that you have not received?”

The greatest of God’s blessings is Jesus Christ who, on the night before he died took bread into his hands, the “bread of everything,” and gave himself to his disciples through this sign. “Take and eat, this is my body which will be given up for you.” In a similar way, he gave them the cup of wine that signifies his blood “poured out” for us.

“Do this in memory of me,” he said.

A mystery of faith, we say in our prayer. We believe through these signs. We can’t let their humble circumstances– the place, the people, the simple acts and words dissuade us. We’re called to wonder at what’s hidden here.

LOST, ALL LOST IN WONDER
Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore,

Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,

See, Lord, at thy service low lies here a heart

Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.



Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived:

How says trusty hearing? that shall be believed;

What God’s Son has told me, take for truth I do;

Truth himself speaks truly or there’s nothing true.



On the cross thy godhead made no sign to men,

Here thy very manhood steals from human ken:

Both are my confession, both are my belief,

And I pray the prayer of the dying thief.

I am not like Thomas, wounds I cannot see,

But can plainly call thee Lord and God as he;

Let me to a deeper faith daily nearer move,

Daily make me harder hope and dearer love.

O thou our reminder of Christ crucified,

Living Bread, the life of us for whom he died,

Lend this life to me then:
feed and feast my mind,

There be thou the sweetness
man was meant to find.

Bring the tender tale true of the Pelican;

Bathe me, Jesu Lord, in what thy bosom ran—

Blood whereof a single drop has power to win

All the world forgiveness of its world of sin.

Jesu, whom I look at shrouded here below,

I beseech thee send me what I thirst for so,

Some day to gaze on thee face to face in light

And be blest for ever with thy glory’s sight. Amen.

(translation of Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.)

Hunger

Manna in the Desert

The next five Sundays we’ll read from the 6th chapter of St. John’s gospel, beginning this Sunday with the miracle of the loaves and the fish. All four gospels recall this miracle, Mark and Matthew report it twice. The miracle and Jesus’ words that follow it in John’s gospel are about the Holy Eucharist. Jesus, the Bread of Life, is the answer to our hunger.

The miracle takes place across the Sea of Galilee, in a “deserted place,’ as Matthew’s gospel describes it. There’s no place to buy food for a hungry crowd.

There’s only five barley loaves and two fish a small boy has. Barley loaves were the ordinary food for the poor.

Jesus initiates this miracle by pointing out to his disciples  a hunger in the crowd. They seem hardly aware of it and have no answer what to do, except to say “We don’t have enough!”  Taking what’s there, the five barley loaves and two fish, Jesus multiplies this food and feeds a multitude. John notes the Passover is near; it’s spring and green grass has grown up in this deserted place. Not only is it enough, but fragments are left over as the crowd has its fill.

Keep in mind the basic reality the miracle addresses: hunger. It’s bodily hunger, yes, but hunger of all kinds is addressed here. Like the disciples, we may be hardly aware of it. Humanity is hungry, this gospel says. Only God can fill its silent, hidden hunger, this miracle says. Only Jesus can.

Hunger

“I come among the peoples like a shadow,

I sit down by each man’s side,

None sees me,

but they look on one another and know that I am there

My silence is like the silence of the tide that buries the playground of children

Like the deepening of frost in the slow night, when birds are dead in the morning.

Armies travel, invade, destroy with guns roaring from earth and air.

I am more terrible than armies.

I am more feared than cannon, kings and chancellors

I give no command to any, but I am listened to more than kings

and more than passionate orators

I unswear words and undo deeds,

Naked things know me.

I am more the first and last to be felt of the living.

I am hunger. “

Lawrence Binyon

The Hand of the Lord Feeds Us

The Gospel of John, written around the year 90, is skillfully constructed  around seven wondrous actions of Jesus, seven “signs” that lead to his passion and resurrection. Our reading last week was about the fourth sign; Jesus multiplies a few loaves and fish to feed a hungry crowd of people near the Sea of Galilee. (John 6, 1-15)

After each sign, Jesus explains its meaning, and the gospels read on Sundays for the remainder of the month– all from the sixth chapter of John’s gospel– are the dialogue Jesus has with the crowd following this miracle.

They’ve followed him and are clamoring for more. He’s the bread come down from heaven, Jesus says, and he reminds them of a previous sign God gave their ancestors in the desert when he sent manna from heaven as they journeyed from Egypt to the Promised Land. They were hungry and God fed them.

He’s the new Moses come down from above to dwell with humanity, Jesus tells them, and he will feed them and lead them on their journey to God’s kingdom. Yet, like their ancestors described in our first reading from the Book of Exodus, this crowd grumbles too. Yes, they experienced a wondrous gift yesterday or so, but that was yesterday. They want daily miracles, something for their stomachs today.

But miracles of that kind don’t happen everyday. Miracles and exceptional signs from God are rare; we spend most of our years living by faith.

Yet, faith also needs something to go on, signs to help us on our way, and so Jesus leaves a reminder of the miracle of the loaves and the fish. He gives the Bread of the Holy Eucharist as a sign that he abides with humanity. We remember him in this sign, we recognize him and we receive him, the “true bread come down from heaven.”

Jesus came to satisfy our hunger, not just our basic hunger for food and drink, but the hungry for life in so many forms. “The hand of the Lord feeds us, he answers all our needs.”