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“I am the Bread of Life”, By Amilee Beer, Fiat Ventures

Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

The Gospel reading this week takes place just after last week’s Gospel, the well-known story of how Jesus fed the crowd with just five loaves of bread and two fish.  We may not know this part of the story as well, but it is actually one of the most important teachings that Jesus shares.

The crowd, after being fed miraculously, follows Jesus across the sea to Capernaum.  Jesus chastises them, saying they are following him not because they believe, but because they were fed.  He says that they should not hunger after the food of this world, but the food of eternal life.  Of course, this confuses them, so he goes on to explain that the only thing they need to do to please God is “to believe in the one he sent.”  The ONLY THING they need to do is to believe in the one he sent.  The only thing we need to do to please God is to believe in the one he sent!

But this isn’t enough for them.  They ask for a sign.  “Prove to us that you are the Messiah, and then we will believe.  Do something amazing, just like Moses gave our ancestors bread from Heaven when they were hungry in the desert.”  But Jesus replied that it was not Moses, who did this, but the Father in Heaven.  And that it is the Bread of God sent from the Father that gives life to the world.

So the crowd, eager to do what pleases God, says “Great!  Give us this bread, so that we can have eternal life.”  And Jesus responds, I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” But this probably just confused the crowd even further!  It wasn’t until the Last Supper and the institution of the Eucharist that this promise was fulfilled.

We may not have been able to meet Jesus, to hear him speak and walk alongside him, but he has given us this Bread from Heaven, the Bread of Life, that will satisfy our hunger and quench our thirst, which will give life to the world.  Every time we go to Mass, we are invited to the table to share in this Bread of Life, the Eucharist.  What an incredible invitation this is!

So this week at Mass, when you go up to receive the Eucharist, remember how special this is.  This is not normal bread; this is the Bread of Life.  It’s not just a symbol or a sign, and as we’ll hear over the next few weeks in the Gospel readings, we truly believe that it is Jesus himself present in the Eucharist that we receive.  This is the most incredible gift we have been given, greater than the beauty of the Earth and the love of our family and the comfort of our homes.  This is the gift of Jesus himself.

As we continue hearing from John’s Gospel over the next few weeks and learning more about the Eucharist, let’s go back to this week’s question of whether or not we trust our heavenly Father and “believe in the one he sent,” who came not only 2,000 years ago to live among us, but who comes to us every time we receive him in the Bread from Heaven!

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