Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Bread of Life

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Web de Jose Antonio Pagola
August 1, 2012

John 6: 24-35

Why are we still interested in Jesus twenty centuries later? What do we hope for from Him? What can He bring to us men and women of our time? Will He perhaps solve the problems of today's world? The Gospel of John talks about a very interesting dialogue that Jesus has with a crowd on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.

The day before, they had shared a surprising free meal with Jesus. They had eaten their fill of bread. How are they going to let Him walk away? What they're seeking is for Jesus to repeat His gesture and feed them again for free. They aren't thinking of anything else.

Jesus disconcerts them with an unexpected statement: "Do not work for food that perishes but for that which endures for eternal life." But how can we not worry about the daily bread? Bread is indispensable to live. We need it and we must work so that nobody ever lacks it.

Jesus knows it. Bread is first. We can't survive without eating. This is why He is so concerned about the hungry and the beggars who don't receive from the rich even the crumbs that fall from their table. This is why He curses the landowners who store up grain without thinking about the poor. This is why He teaches His followers to ask the Father for bread for His sons and daughters every day.

But Jesus wants to waken a different hunger in them. He talks to them about a bread that doesn't just satisfy a day's hunger, but the hunger and thirst for life that is in every human being. We must not forget. There's a hunger in us for justice for all, a hunger for peace, for liberty, for peace, for truth. Jesus presents Himself as this Bread that comes to us from the Father, not to fill us up with food but "to give life to the world."

That Bread, which has come from God, "endures for eternal life." The food we eat each day keeps us alive for years, but the moment comes when it can't defend us against death. It's useless for us to go on eating. It can't give us life beyond death.

Jesus presents Himself as that Bread of eternal life. Everyone must decide how they want to live and how they want to die. But believing in Christ is feeding an indestructible force within us, beginning to experience something that won't end with our death. Following Christ is entering into the mystery of death sustained by His resuscitating strength.

On hearing His words, the people of Capernaum cry out to Him from the bottom of their hearts, "Sir, give us this bread always." From our wavering faith, we don't dare ask anything similar. Perhaps we're only concerned about daily food. And, sometimes, just ours.

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