John 6: 41 – 51
Come Holy Spirit make us holy.
Fill our hearts with a burning desire for the Truth, the Way and the Fullness of Life. Enkindle in us your fire that it may make us into light that shines and warms and consoles. Let our heavy tongues find words to speak of your love and beauty. Make us a new creation so that we become people of love, your holy ones, visible words of God; then we will renew the face of the earth and everything will be created anew. Amen.
The Gospels were written to be read to a public audience. (Our practice of private reading is a fairly recent development.) The authors needed to use various techniques to hold their audience’s attention. Repetition was often used to lay emphasis on what was important.
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I have grouped some of the repetitions which I invite you to read aloud, with meaning and feeling, as they might have sounded originally.
41 … I am the bread that came down from heaven.
48I am the bread of life.
50 … this is the bread that comes down from heaven
51I am the living bread that has come down from heaven.
44 … I will raise him up on the last day.
47 … everybody who believes has eternal life.
50 … eat and not die.
51 … will live forever.
Now read Jn 6: 41 – 57.
Let us begin our reflection by re-visiting the beginning of Chapter 6 where we have the feeding of the two crowds.
In your imagination picture Jesus seated, talking to his disciples and the Jewish people who had followed him across the lake. A bunch of local pagans approach. There is an uneasiness stirring among the Jewish people. The disciples are even more uncomfortable. How is Jesus going to react? Hopefully he will put these people in their place and send them packing. But, NO!! He welcomes them and they join everybody else. “How could he”, think many in the crowd!!
The teaching really begins in earnest when Jesus suggests they share a picnic together, even offer each other something to eat. Remember, this sharing was started by the little boy. Was he a pagan? Probably!!!
Slowly the barriers begin to come down. Pagans and Jews begin to see their neighbours as people. Differences of race, religion, customs, begin to come tumbling down. Jesus invitation is a breath of fresh air blowing away their prejudices. He is the bread of life..
Two thousand years later Jesus’ teaching is just as relevant. We continue to label and exclude people as sinners, unclean, inferior, defective …
We all believe that after death we will have a different kind of existence. What this will be we really do not know. The fact that “Eternal life” appears so frequently in the Gospels suggest that this term also applies to the here and now. Now is the only moment we have. It is now that we forgive, let go of our prejudices, reach out to others, feed the hungry, welcome the stranger …
We all want to live our lives in happiness, have ‘eternal life’. This search for happiness will not be satisfied with just meeting our basic human needs for food and shelter. Our aspirations go much higher to love, education, pleasure. But remember Jesus calls us to service of those who are close to us and to those who have little. We need to share with others. By following Jesus example we to will live life to the full. We will have eternal life.
It is certain that our God wants the very best for everyone of us. We have been gifted with so many talents and our God wants us to put these to the best possible use.
We have the perfect example in Jesus. He has shown us how to live to the full. His example, teachings and words have been written down for us – His WORD – the Scriptures – living bread. The more we read the Word, the better we come to know Jesus and the more likely that we will adopt his way of life.
How can a person resemble God? As John reflected on Jesus’ life he realized that Jesus must really be very like God. We in our turn can resemble Jesus. As we take on Jesus’ values so little by little what was said of Jesus could be said of us.
Look at Jesus’ life and you will find this description of God reflected there.
Who is there like you, the God who removes guilt
and pardons sin for the remnant of his inheritance;
Who does not persist in anger forever,
but delights rather in clemency,
and will have compassion on us,
treading underfoot our guilt?
You will cast into the depths of the sea all our sins. Mi 7: 18 – 19
Come let us climb the Lord’s mountain,
that he may instruct us in his ways.
They shall beat their swords into ploughshares
and their spears into pruning hooks;
One nation shall not raise the sword against another,
nor shall they train for war again.
O house of Jacob come let us walk in the light of the Lord. Is 2: 3 – 4
All peoples come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.