Tag Archives: Moses

God’s Designs

“God’s Designs”
A reflection on Mark 10:2-12, Genesis 1:27-28a, 2:18-24
Sunday of the Twenty-Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

The Pharisees approached and asked, “Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?” They were testing him. He said to them in reply, “What did Moses command you?” They replied, “Moses permitted him to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her.” But Jesus told them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother [and be joined to his wife], and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” In the house the disciples again questioned him about this. He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

Mark 10:2-12

God created mankind in his image;
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
God blessed them and God said to them: 
Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.

Genesis 1:27-28

The Lord God said: It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suited to him. So the Lord God formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the air, and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them; whatever the man called each living creature was then its name. The man gave names to all the tame animals, all the birds of the air, and all the wild animals; but none proved to be a helper suited to the man.

So the Lord God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. The Lord God then built the rib that he had taken from the man into a woman. When he brought her to the man, the man said:

“This one, at last, is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
This one shall be called ‘woman,’
for out of man this one has been taken.”
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.

Genesis 2:18-24

The protological account of the first marriage in Genesis to which Jesus refers is a model and standard by which to measure the law of Moses and accommodations for divorce up to the present day. It acknowledges an ideal placed in the human heart, even if fallen human beings fail to achieve it. Jesus, the Bridegroom of the Church, came to heal fractured humanity and will always remain one with her.

God’s creation is always fruitful and life-giving, from plant and animal life, to married and consecrated life.

Related posts: 

One, Two, Three… Return to Trinity!
Let the Children Come to Me

Lambs Among Wolves

“Lambs Among Wolves”
Luke 10:1-12 “in a snailshell”
Thursday of the Twenty-Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

After this the Lord appointed seventy[-two] others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. He said to them, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way. Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household.’ If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves his payment. Do not move about from one house to another. Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God is at hand for you.’ Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you, go out into the streets and say, ‘The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you.’ Yet know this: the kingdom of God is at hand. I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town.

Luke 10:1-12

Seventy or seventy-two? The New American Bible (Revised Edition) brackets off the [-two] in its text with this explanation:

Seventy[-two]: important representatives of the Alexandrian and Caesarean text types read “seventy,” while other important Alexandrian texts and Western readings have “seventy-two.”

Both readings come from authoritative manuscripts. Commentators find significance in the number seventy for three reasons:

1. The spirit of prophecy was given to seventy elders to assist Moses in his work.

Then the Lord said to Moses: Assemble for me seventy of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be elders and authorities among the people, and bring them to the tent of meeting. When they are in place beside you, I will come down and speak with you there. I will also take some of the spirit that is on you and will confer it on them, that they may share the burden of the people with you. You will then not have to bear it by yourself.

Numbers 11:16-17

2. The number seventy evokes the Sanhedrin, consisting of seventy or seventy-one elders or councilors, the highest authoritative assembly in Jerusalem. Historians distinguish between a political and a religious Sanhedrin, but the tradition of a supreme magistrate of seventy originated in the Mosaic period.

3. Seventy had mystical significance as representing the number of the nations (Genesis 10; 46:27; Exodus 1:5; see the NABRE footnote to Genesis 10:1).

Seventy and seventy-two may have equal authoritative weight in the manuscripts for another reason: the rabbinic tradition debated whether Eldad and Medad were among the seventy elders called by Moses, or two additional men upon whom the spirit of prophecy fell. 

So Moses went out and told the people what the Lord had said. Gathering seventy elders of the people, he had them stand around the tent. The Lord then came down in the cloud and spoke to Moses. Taking some of the spirit that was on Moses, he bestowed it on the seventy elders; and as the spirit came to rest on them, they prophesied but did not continue.

Now two men, one named Eldad and the other Medad, had remained in the camp, yet the spirit came to rest on them also. They too had been on the list, but had not gone out to the tent; and so they prophesied in the camp. So, when a young man ran and reported to Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp,” Joshua, son of Nun, who from his youth had been Moses’ aide, said, “My lord, Moses, stop them.” But Moses answered him, “Are you jealous for my sake? If only all the people of the Lord were prophets! If only the Lord would bestow his spirit on them!”

Numbers 11:24-29

According to the 13th century French rabbi and Bible commentator, Hizkuni/Chizkuni (Hezekiah ben Manoah), Eldad and Medad were not part of the original seventy, but received the spirit in the camp for mysterious reasons known only to God. The text leaves room for speculation because verse 24 states that Moses gathered seventy elders around the tent. Yet verse 26 states that Eldad and Medad were “on the list” or “enrolled in the list,” which leaves a logical gap.

Another French rabbi, Rashbam (Samuel ben Meir, 1085-1158), on the contrary, believed that Eldad and Medad were numbered among the seventy, but did not join the others at the tent of meeting out of humility. God’s spirit nevertheless pursued them to fulfill the divine plan.

Dr. Rabbi David Frankel, a contemporary biblical commentator, offers the interesting perspective that Eldad and Medad were holy rebels among the seventy, who nonetheless received the spirit of prophecy despite having disobeyed Moses’ command to go to the tent of meeting. For Dr. Rabbi Frankel, this episode manifests the divine freedom to diffuse its spirit beyond the confines of institutionalized religion. See his essay, Eldad and Medad Prophesied in the Camp.1

Missing data and manuscript variations leave room for scholarly speculation, but symbols draw details and divergences into one holistic vision.

The mission of the seventy[-two] and the mission of the Twelve reinforce each other. Both numbers are symbolic, recalling the seventy elders of Moses and the twelve tribes of Israel— the union and communion of all nations in the Body of Christ.


1 Dr. Rabbi David Frankel’s intuition of a need for personal freedom within religious communities stimulates further reflection in light of the revelation of the Trinity. Pluralism is usually seen as a threat to institutions, but divine diversity in the perichoresis of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit always respects the dignity of persons and draws them together in love. For God is Love (1 John 4:8). The simultaneity of personal plurality and oneness within the Body of Christ will always be a labor of love in this earthly pilgrimage. Blessed diversity bears the fruit of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

Related posts: 

Two by Two
Neither Gold Nor Silver
Penniless Preachers
The Spirit Blows Where It Wills

Jesus Mourns the Death of John the Baptist

“Jesus mourns the death of John the Baptist”
Matthew 14:13 in a couplet
Monday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Related posts: 17 Ordinary Time Saturday, Beatitudes, Day 2, 17 Ordinary Time Sunday
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns.

Matthew 14:13

John the Baptist was “the voice of one crying in the wilderness (eremós)” (Mark 1:3; Matthew 3:3; Luke 3:4). At the news of his death, Jesus withdrew to a “deserted place (erēmon topon),” by himself (Matthew 14:13).

In the Bible, the desert (or wilderness) is a place of encounter with God and truth. The Spirit drove Jesus into the desert (eremós) to be tempted by the devil (Mark 1:12; Matthew 4:1; Luke 4:1).

Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh with the request: “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Let my people go, that they may hold a feast for me in the wilderness” (Exodus 5:1). 

The children of Israel never imagined that they would wander in the desert for forty years! The long years of nomadic trial, temptation, and trust in the Lord for daily bread were designed to attune ears to the voice of God. Away from the hustle and bustle of Egyptian cities, God called his people to himself in the wilderness.

The Hebrew word for wilderness (midbar) is translated as eremós in the Greek Septuagint. The biblical concept of the wilderness (midbar) is derived from the noun dabar (speech, word) and the verb dabar (to speak). 

In the Hebrew Scriptures, the “word of the Lord” visits patriarchs and prophets with divine guidance and directives (e.g., Genesis 15:1, 4; I Samuel 15:10; 2 Samuel 7:4; 24:11; Jeremiah 1:4). The “Ten Commandments” are the “ten words” given to Moses in the wilderness of Mount Sinai (Deuteronomy 4:13; Hebrew).

In Matthew’s version of the feeding of the five thousand, the crowd followed Jesus into the wilderness and received an abundant feast from five loaves and two fish. As the Father fed the Israelites in the desert with “bread from heaven” (manna) and the word of the Lord (the five books of the Pentateuch and the two tablets of the law) through his servant Moses, he fed them with his own Son, the Word made flesh and “true bread from heaven” (John 6:32). 

When the Word of the Lord fills our being, we become a desert oasis for our God.

Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.

Hosea 2:14 (RSV; Hosea 2:16 in NABRE)

The Feeding of the Five Thousand

“The Feeding of the Five Thousand”
John 6:1-15 in a couplet
Sunday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

After this, Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee. A large crowd followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. The Jewish feast of Passover was near. When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little [bit].” One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him,“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people recline.” Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat. When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.” Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone.

John 6:1-15

A prophet like me will the Lord, your God, raise up for you from among your own kindred; that is the one to whom you shall listen.

Deuteronomy 18:15

Is Jesus the “prophet like me” about whom Moses foretold? John drops hints all over his Gospel account of the feeding of the five thousand which took place near Passover. 

According to the tradition of Israel, Moses spoke to the Lord “face to face” in a cloud on Mount Sinai. The teachings of the Pentateuch (five books of the Torah) and the Ten Commandments (two tablets of the law) entrusted to him fed the hearts of the children of Israel. By the power of God, Moses performed signs and wonders in the court of Pharaoh, parted the Red Sea, and led the Israelites out of Egypt. In the forty years of wandering in the desert, Moses fed his hungry children with “bread from heaven” (manna). Finally, Moses mediated God’s covenant with the twelve tribes of Israel.

In the feeding of the five thousand, twelve baskets of fragments are gathered, symbolizing the twelve tribes of Israel.

In the feeding of the four thousand (Mark 8:1-9), seven baskets of fragments are gathered, symbolizing the seven nations of the Gentiles competing with the twelve tribes for occupation of the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 7:1). Mark records this miracle right after Jesus’ journey through the Gentile cities of Tyre and Sidon, where he encounters the Syrophoenician woman and the deaf man in the Decapolis. Several commentators defend this interpretation based on the context of the miracle.

Simultaneously, both twelve and seven represent perfect, round, complete numbers inclusive of all peoples and nations. The Gentiles are grafted by Christ into Israel (the twelve), and the children of Adam return to oneness in Christ as at the completion of creation (seven). 

In the book of Revelation, twelve and seven are mentioned multiple times in John’s vision of the consummation of the world. Twelve tribes, twelve stars, twelve gates, twelve angels, twelve foundation stones, twelve names of the twelve apostles, twelve pearls, and a tree of life bearing fruit twelve times a year resound from the book like a thunderclap. Seven churches, seven spirits, seven gold lampstands, seven stars, seven flaming torches, seven seals, seven horns, seven eyes, seven angels, seven trumpets, seven thunders, seven heads, seven diadems,1 and seven plagues amplify the rolling thunder to a crescendo.

The early church saw the gathering of the fragments as the unity of all nations and people in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The Eucharist is the sacrament of unity:

As this broken bread was scattered upon the mountains, but was brought together and became one, so let thy Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into thy kingdom, for thine is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ for ever.”

Didache 9.4

1 When seven is used symbolically of the dragon’s heads and diadems, it accentuates the completeness of Christ’s victory over the world. For example, the expression “out of whom seven demons had gone out” (Luke 8:2) means complete healing and restoration.

The Father’s Face

Russian icon, The Mystical Supper (early 14th century). Fresco in Vatopedi Monastery, Mt. Athos.

Saturday of the Fourth Week of Easter

John 14:7-14

If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.

John 14:7

Holy prophets longed to see what the disciples saw but did not see it (Matthew 13:17; 1 Peter 1:10-11). Angels bend and “stoop sideways” (parakúpto) with a yearning to peer into the hidden mysteries of Christ (1 Peter 1:12). 

Not even Moses, who saw God’s glory pass before him on Mount Sinai (Exodus 33:18-23), saw what the disciples saw. Theirs was a singular privilege in the history of Israel. Yet Philip repeated Moses’ request as if nothing new had taken place.

Philip said to him, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.”

John 14:8

Moses said, “Show me your glory!”

Exodus 33:18; LXX

Philip duplicated Moses’ request with the same opening words in the Greek version: Show me/us the…

Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works.

John 14:9-10

What does it mean to know and be known in a relationship? The disciples knew Jesus’ name, physical features, family, community, culture, religion, language, and many of his teachings. But did they really know who Jesus was? 

None of the above variables for knowing a person touched the depth of Jesus’ identity. The unseen Father dwelling in the Son, and the Son dwelling in the Father remained an opaque mystery to the disciples. Yet this is who Jesus was, is, and ever will be, for ever and ever. Prior to the Virgin birth, “I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” Undivided yet distinct, Father and Son speak with one voice, and act as one God.

Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves. 

John 14:11

Considering God’s point of view, how are free thinking human beings to be brought into the knowledge of the Blessed Trinity? Making himself visible in the Son as a human being was the climax of the Abrahamic covenant and prophecies, but the Father remained hidden and unknown. Jesus used two main methods: words (“believe me”) and works (signs and wonders).   Theophanies at the Baptism in the Jordan and the Transfiguration also revealed the identity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  As the Last Supper Discourse progresses, God’s final and most powerful method will be disclosed: 

The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name—he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.

John 14:26

The Holy Spirit completes the mission of the Son, whose outpouring of grace will be the cause of “greater works” accomplished through the Body of Christ:

Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father.

John 14:12

Jesus’ “going to the Father” is the hinge for the Spirit’s movement from one end of the earth to the other, and from the Jewish nation to the nations of the world.

And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.

John 14:13-14

In Hebrew culture, names represent persons and their characters. Faith in the name, character, and person of Jesus Christ brings glory to the Father. 

The priestly blessing to Aaron and his sons became flesh in Jesus Christ. The face of God the Father shone upon his disciples and blessed them. 

The Lord bless you and keep you!
The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!
The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!
So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites, and I will bless them.

Numbers 6:24-27

-GMC

My Father’s House

Duccio, The Last Supper, Maestá altarpiece (1311)

Friday of the Fourth Week of Easter

John 14:1-6

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me.

John 14:1

One of the disciples was about to betray Jesus (John 13:21-30). Another was forewarned that he would deny him thrice before cockcrow (John 13:38). The disciples had reasons to feel uneasy. Yet immediately after these predictions, Jesus exhorted them to stand firm in faith. 

“Believe in God; believe also in me,” an alternative translation reads. Pisteuete (believe) can be read in either the indicative or imperative moods.

In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 

John 14:2

“My Father’s house” evoked a world of images and ideas that shaped the character of Israel from ancient times. Psalm 122 celebrates a pilgrim’s journey to “the house of the LORD,” Jerusalem, which means “foundation of peace (shalom).”  

I rejoiced when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the LORD.”

Psalm 122:1; LXX

The same word for house, oikia, is used in John’s Gospel and in the Greek translation of the Psalm. Shalom, shalom, shalom—the Psalm resounds thrice (verses 6-8). The house of the LORD is a city of peace, an assembly of praise, and a citadel of justice.

There are many mansions or dwelling places (moné) in the house of the LORD, room enough for all. The Son of Man who had “nowhere to lay his head” on earth, poorer than foxes and birds, threw open the doors to his Father’s house of plenty.

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.

John 14:3

Jesus will ultimately triumph over death; the grave cannot hold him prisoner. Christ will “come again” and live forever with his disciples. A little later, Jesus locates the Father’s dwelling (moné) in the hearts of believers:

Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.

John 14:23

Dwelling in the Father’s house, and being indwelt by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are expressions of supreme union between God and his children.

“Where I am going you know the way.” Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?”

John 14:4-5

Why did Jesus expect his disciples to “know the way”? Perhaps the tradition of the Torah, Psalms, and Prophets should have clued them in.

Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.

Psalm 86:11; LXX

Way (Hebrew derek and Greek hodos) is a central idea in Mosaic law and liturgy. “Walking” (halak) in the way of the LORD is an idiom for living righteously in the sight of God.

Be careful, therefore, to do as the LORD, your God, has commanded you, not turning aside to the right or to the left, but following exactly the way that the LORD, your God, commanded you that you may live and prosper, and may have long life in the land which you are to possess.

Deuteronomy 5:32-33; LXX

If Thomas’ question had been directed to Moses, he would have been guided in the word, law, life, and truth handed down from Mount Sinai (Psalm 119).

The new Moses responded:

I am the way and the truth and the life.

John 14:6

The way, the truth, and the life of the Mosaic law has become flesh in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The Way, the Truth, and the Life is a person revealing the face of God the Father.

No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:6

-GMC

Word and Eternal Life

Andrei Rublev, Icon of the Most Holy Trinity

Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Easter

John 12:44-50

Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me, and whoever sees me sees the one who sent me.

John 12:44-45

Jesus is not a one person mission. Again and again, he deferred all of his actions and words to the Father. Andrei Rublev’s icon of the Most Holy Trinity depicts the Son and the Spirit looking toward the Father, the unbegotten origin of the Son and the Spirit. God is, of course, beyond spacetime; thus words like “unbegotten” and “origin,” derived from sensible experience, must be understood as pointers to an ineffable reality.

I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness.

John 12:46

John’s Prologue introduces the Word of God who was “in the beginning with God” as Life and Light itself (John 1:1-5). 

And if anyone hears my words and does not observe them, I do not condemn him, for I did not come to condemn the world but to save the world.

John 12:47

Earlier in the Gospel, all judgment is given to the Son (John 5:22). Passages about judgment expose the core of the human heart. The voice of God in every heart provokes a search for flourishing. Fear of external judgment corresponds to an inner compass groping for Light, Life, Love, Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. 

Jesus forgave his enemies from the Cross for they did not recognize him as the Son of God (Luke 23:34). But failure to recognize the Spirit of God, Jesus says, is inexcusable (Matthew 12:31-32). These puzzling Scriptures seem to point to the fundamental orientation of our heart toward the voice and Spirit of God—receptivity or rejection?1

Whoever rejects me and does not accept my words has something to judge him: the word that I spoke, it will condemn him on the last day, because I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak.

John 12:48-49

The “word” (dabar) in Hebrew culture is loaded with significance. In Genesis, the word of God has the power to create, bringing light and life into being. A word of blessing, once given, could not be revoked (Genesis 27:1-46). Words have power to heal; they issue forth from the mouth of God to accomplish his purposes (Psalm 107:20; 147:15; Isaiah 55:11). God’s word is a living fire—a hammer that breaks rock into pieces (Jeremiah 23:29). 

In the Mosaic world, word and life (also law and life) are so closely intertwined that they are virtually indistinguishable:

When Moses had finished speaking all these words to all Israel, he said to them, Take to heart all the words that I am giving in witness against you today, words you should command your children, that they may observe carefully every word of this law. For this is no trivial matter for you, but rather your very life; by this word you will enjoy a long life on the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.

Deuteronomy 32:45-47

Jesus, the Word of God, offered himself to the world as Light and Life. A heart shriveled, closed to love, and sunk in darkness is a heart condemned. 

The words of Christ proceed from the Father, for “the Father and I are one” (John 10:30).

And I know that his commandment is eternal life. So what I say, I say as the Father told me.”

John 12:50

The new Moses elevated the equivalence of word and life to Word and Eternal Life. Jesus is the Word sent forth from the Father to heal and give life to a broken and dying world.

-GMC

1 More than conscience, the Spirit of God produces the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22).

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

Bread from Heaven

Christ feeding the multitude (Coptic icon)

Tuesday of the Third Week of Easter

John 6:30-35

So they said to him, “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

John 6:30-31

The question put to Jesus by the crowd was peculiar since the sign of the multiplication of loaves and fishes took place before their very eyes. Preconceived, ingrained ideas blocked the passage to realization and understanding.

God and true religion followed a long-established script: Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt and feeding them with “bread from heaven” (Exodus 16:4). Moshe, a heroic icon of tradition, was enshrined and venerated. Jesus was newfangled. Insofar as Jesus resembled Moses, his authority was authenticated. Few gazed upon Jesus with the freshness of a tabula rasa. 

So Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.

John 6:32

The Torah itself testifies that the LORD (Tetragrammaton) rained down bread from heaven (Exodus 16:4). Moses was his holy servant and prophet, as much in need of manna as his fellow Israelites. The claim of the new Moses was from an entirely different order of reality: Jesus is the true (aléthinon) bread from heaven (John 6:32). The Greek word aléthinos literally means “made of truth,” thus real and genuine.

For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

John 6:33

Life (zóé) includes the quickening of the spirit by the Holy Spirit to adapt the person for communion in the divine life. Zóé escapes X-rays and EEGs. The life of God surpasses mere bios or biological, earthly existence. 

Zóé is what all persons intrinsically desire—to have the Light of God burn inextinguishably in the core of our being, indeed, to make us lamps in the Lamp. 

“Easter, Day 15”
Responsorial Psalm from 4:6(7)
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

So they said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.

John 6:34-35

The Christ-Bread transforms flesh into himself, divinizing and transfiguring humanity in grace. A person filled with the Holy Spirit is a fruit-bearing tree:

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

Galatians 5:22-23

A life of wholeness in God beyond hunger and satiety is a very great promise indeed. Jesus’ listeners were paying attention.

-GMC