“For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’ They said to him, ‘Sir, give us this bread always.’” (John 6: 33-34)
Jesus refers to himself often, in John’s Gospel, as “living bread,” the food that gives life and feeds the world. He tells the crowds that they follow him (see John 6: 22-34) because he fed the 5,000 with five loaves and two fish. What they should be seeking, he counters, is the bread that feeds for spiritual life and satisfies our true hunger for something that saves. What if, when we come to receive the Body (and Blood) of Jesus, we prayed and focused on actually receiving Jesus, which is what we lay claim to? Jesus is the life of the world, the bread of heaven, God’s saving food that brings us into the presence of God. Holy Eucharist brings us squarely into contact with our Crucified and Risen Lord. People do need actual food and water to survive and part of our call as disciples of Jesus is to feed the needy and love them into life. But so often we forget that Jesus’ whole point is that without the living bread that He provides, we are lost, whether we are poor or rich, hungry or living in a place of plenty. We cannot ignore the cries of the poor and hungry but, at the same time, we must not forget that Christ is the source of eternal life, the bread that saves. Jesus invites us to come and see, to freely partake of the life that He offers in himself.