Two weeks ago the gospel was the multiplication of the loaves. In that story Jesus saw that the people were hungry and in need of nourishment, so he accomplished a miracle. Our gospel today is from the same chapter of John’s gospel (chapter 6). Unfortunately, the nourishment that Jesus wanted to give the people was more than nourishment for the body. Jesus tells us: “I am the bread of life….whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”
The Jews murmur in protest, as we often do when God feeds us spiritually rather than physically. The people wanted Jesus to give them food – earthly food. Jesus wanted to give them life – eternal life.
Often we think that if we pray enough and are close enough to God all our needs will be taken care of and we will not suffer. But if we look at Jesus’ life we notice something different. He prayed often and had a special connection with God the Father, but he still had needs (hunger, thirst) and he suffered. His purpose was not to take our problems away but to help us through them. The bread of life – his body – is food for the journey. It does not change the terrain on which we travel, it changes and strengthens the traveler. We will still have our ups and downs in life, but with Jesus the bread of life, we will have the strength to get through the difficult times. As we celebrate the Eucharist and receive the bread of life, may we be strengthened to live more faithfully. Peace.