The bread discourse consists of two parts (Jn. 6:35-47 and John 6:48-58) which have three sections containing parallels and differences. In the first section of both, Jesus claims “I am the bread of life.” (Jn. 6:35-40; 48-51) Murmuring (Jn. 6:41-42) and disputing (John 6:52) follow in the second section. In the third section, Jesus says: “I will raise him/her up on the last day.” Eternal life is promised. The responses differ. “Whoever believes has eternal life” (John 6:43-47) later becomes: “Whoever eats and drinks has eternal life” (Jn. 6:53-57). Complicated?
The invitations for us to ponder, I would like to sum in three points: First, Whoever listens and learns from the Father comes to me. Jesus claimed that everyone who has heard or listened and learned from the Father comes to Him as both a comfort and a challenge. It is comforting because it says no one who is really open to God will be left out. But it is also a challenge because it is another one of Jesus’ claims to unique, supreme authority. All revelations before or outside of Jesus lead one to come to Him. God the Father’s life-giving force is His Word, His only Son, and so it was He whom God sent as Savior and Redeemer. The Father is always drawing us into divine life, because he loves us limitless. He does this through Jesus who is one like us and who tells us what the Father has in mind for us. So, there are Divine Persons busy in our lives, enabling us to become like them. If we live within these intimate relationships we are already sharing in eternal life. How wonderful!
Second, Eating the Bread of Life implies believing in Jesus. Even though the Father draws and teaches, the drawing and teaching require a believing response. The reward of belief is eternal life. Equating Himself with bread, Jesus is saying he is essential for life. This is an invitation for us to place our faith in Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God. Coming to Jesus involves making a choice to forsake our old self and follow Him. Believing in Jesus means placing our faith in Him that He is who He says He is, that He will do what He says He will do, and that He is the only one who can.
Third, a life for the world. Jesus further defined the bread of life as He would voluntarily give for the life of the world: His flesh. These are both a revelation and a promise. “I will give” clearly indicates that the Lord Jesus is thinking of one definite act; His atoning sacrifice on the Cross which represents His unconditional love to each one of us. God has loved us into being and sustains us in being through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the sacrament of love and sacrifice. Our Father Founder Blessed Francisco Palau reminds us “The one who makes an act of charity, by his love, gives himself not only to Christ the Head, but also to his members, the neighbors.” (MR 3:11)
In receiving the bread of life, we commit ourselves to being ‘Eucharist People’ offering the love, mercy and compassion of God to the world especially during this time of pandemic. We want to do work that God wants us to do. The challenge for each of us is to deepen our awareness of who Jesus is to us, the way of life He lived; to deepen our relationship with Him and gradually we will be Like Jesus that says “I am the bread of life and I will give it for the life of the world.” (Jn. 6:48, 51) And that is, what it means to be a disciple.
Reina del Carmelo Community