August 12, 2018
The crowd seeks Jesus out for more bread. Aware of their intention Jesus urges “the seekers” to work for food that endures for eternal life. They ask how to obtain this bread. Jesus urges them to “believe in” in the one God sent into the world. Recall John 3:16: “God so loved the world that he gave us his only Son that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” “Believe in” occurs 34 time in the Gospel according to St. John. It is not so much a mental exercise e.g. memorizing the catechism as a giving of our entire being. It is foremost an act of the will and heart when we “come and see where Jesus lives.”
The feeding of the multitude is a sign. A sign engages the person on one level and, at the same time, points to deeper meaning. The heavenly bread that Jesus offers embodies the life that he enjoys with his Father that sustains him. Jesus shares this bread of union through his teaching and his disciples come to experience the love of the Father and Son when they keep his commandments.
Bread is also the body of Jesus on the cross that he offers in obedience to the Father for our redemption. Bread is his continuing presence in Eucharist, his body and blood we receive in Holy Communion. There are multiple levels of meaning. The bread is the living Word of God; it is the body of Jesus on the cross, it is the sacrament of his Body & Blood. When we receive Holy Communion, Christ becomes incarnate in us. “We consume the bread of life in order to become the flesh and blood that brings life to others.” We are the heart, the voice and hands of Jesus in the world.
Jesus repeatedly invites his disciples and those listening to “believe in” him. Remarkably Jesus “believes in” us. “Love one another as I have loved you.”
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