TEXT: The Holy Gospel According to Saint John 6: 41-51
Nowhere in Holy Scripture is our Lord Jesus more clear as to his reference to the Eucharistic Reality of his Real Presence.
For many years as a separated brother in Christ I did not realize this. I would listen to these words and say to myself - "No, it could not be that Jesus is speaking of this in any other way but 'spiritually'"... and thus, I would set aside what everyone else in the passage seemed to understand that he spoke of... his Body and Blood in the real sense.
For even the Jewish hearers of Jesus understood this.
41 The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, "I am the bread which came down from heaven."
42 They said, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, 'I have come down from heaven'?"
"I am the bread which came down from heaven." This is an immensely important idea; this identification with bread, for every human being eats. Every one of us partakes of bread, the "staff of life." It is universal, even for countries, which have so little bread to eat; the idea of "bread" is universal in all nations and with all peoples.
It was the nation of Israel who experienced the "manna" in the wilderness. Someone would say that they received "bread from heaven" at the hand of Moses. Now, a greater than Moses is here as the Bread from heaven.
"I am the bread which came down from heaven."
But wait, and let us see what the focus of these people is..."Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, 'I have come down from heaven'?"
Their focus is as is ours so often... they focus only upon what they see with their eyes and senses. They know Jesus as the son of Mary and Joseph; because God could not possible have done anything NEW!
But, in fact, God was doing a NEW thing.
Jesus, born in Bethlehem (The House of Bread), there in a manger (the place where animals eat of those products of the field that bread is made from as well...now stands before all as the Bread of Life, the Bread that came down from heaven!
God is doing a new thing in the midst of humanity... God is Immanuel - God with us... and we are beholding his Glory, the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. The Law was given by Moses but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ!
Our Focus now must change... and Jesus says...
43 Jesus answered them, "Do not murmur among yourselves.
44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.
It is grace that we must cooperate with as the Lord calls us. We are all called and given great graces by God. How shall we use this grace? Shall we waste our lives and ignore it? Or, shall we embrace grace and allow God to draw us ever closer to Jesus, our Bread from heaven?
And, what promises are given.
He will raise those whom the Father draws to Jesus - UP at the last day! This speaks of resurrection, beloved, the blessed hope of the Christian!
45 It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught by God.' Every one who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.
46 Not that any one has seen the Father except him who is from God; he has seen the Father.
47 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.
To be taught of God!
There is no Teacher greater than God. The Blessed Holy Spirit teaches us. God the Holy Trinity working, One God... draws us to Jesus, the Son.
There is a double "truly" that Jesus emphatically says here. The one who believes (trusts) God has eternal life.
Do you believe?
Do you and I trust in God alone?
Now, he remains with us, the Bread of Life, as he remained in the Bread with the two he traveled with to Emmaus.
48 I am the bread of life.
Jesus is our "pan de vida."
The program of God has always been heading this direction of this wonderful reality. In the wilderness it was there in type (figure)... the manna - "what is it?"
Now, we have the answer -- I am the bread of life!
This is the True Bread we must have in order to live lives full of grace and power in a world that hates God.
We live in the wilderness of sin.
God gives us this Bread to eat for our survival. This Eucharistic Reality of the Real Presence is more than a mere theological term. It is praxis based and the Essence of Jesus Christ, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity! Oh, come let us adore him! Let is partake of him daily! Let us reverence him daily!
So many partake of Jesus so haphazardly. They do not reverence him as really Present Tran substantially. What indignities our Lord Jesus Christ is subjected to.
I have observed some upon receiving Communion in hand holding him in the hand as if nibbling at a candy bar with no respect... I turned away. I am only responsible for my own attitude, not those of others but I must respect and honor my Lord in the Holy Eucharist.
Let us follow the words of the song - "Eat this bread, drink this cup, come to me and never be hungry. Eat this bread, drink this cup, trust in me and you will not thirst." (Robert Batastini, 'Eat this Bread,' 1984, Ateliers et Presses de Taize [France])
This is the Bread that Mary was first to say, "Yes" to. Now, he comes to us in this universal, Catholic, Way -- and we now may respond in love to him. It is our calling, our privilege, God given, to come and respond to Jesus and actually partake of his Body and Blood!
This is true Intimacy with God!
We must discern this fully in order to gain the benefits of never thirsting or hungering spiritually again!
Come, let us adore him and partake of him as one people of God.
49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.
50 This is the bread, which comes down from heaven that a man may eat of it and not die.
What grace to us!
This is Life for us!
51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh."
How clearly Jesus speaks of this.
May we hear with our ears and see this now with our very eyes as we behold him Present with us. Let us appreciate his sacrifice for us with our tongues and mouth, touch and smell as intimate witnesses to his Cross - the senses he created for us are also present in the Presence of the Present Lord Jesus, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity as we partake of him in the Holy Eucharist.
How he loves us to make it so simple for us to understand... "I am the bread which came down from heaven."
May God grant you Grace and Peace through Christ.