Jesus said to them,
"I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and
whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, "I am
the bread that came down from heaven."
They were saying, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose
father and mother we know? How can he now say, 'I have come down from
heaven'?" Jesus answered them, "Do not complain among
yourselves. No one can come to me unless
drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last
day. It is written in the prophets, 'And
they shall all be taught by God.' Everyone who has heard and learned from the
Father comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is
from God; he has seen the Father. Very
truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the
wilderness, and they died. This is the
bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am
the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will
live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my
This gospel reminds us of one good thing we can
never get enough of. In case you missed it the first time, Jesus lays it out once
again: I am the living bread that came
down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever. We’ve grown
up with this essential tenet of Christianity. It’s a Bible study basic. It’s
been grist for countless sermons. We know the words. But even now, do we really get it? Not just a
nodding acceptance, but do we actively embrace the real-world implications of a
life in and for Christ, centered on him, nourished by him?
Or is life in Christ something we’re going to get
around to when we have the time? After all we have so many obligations: mouths
to feed, mortgages to pay, credit cards, car payments, tuition, and on and on.
And that’s just the cash side of the leger. Demands on our time and emotions
can be even higher. So what to do? Do we put Jesus in the cue with all our
other obligations? Or do we drop him in the pit of good intentions that we’re
going to get to, someday?
First of all, let’s get our heads on straight. If we
see living in Christ as another obligation, as just one more thing to do, we
need some very serious attitude adjustment. Living in Christ is not another
thing to do. It is the thing to do. It is the only reason we are here.
And it is all that God expects from us…not results, not contributions, not a
quid pro quo deal of doing good things to get good things.
But here’s the best part. Life in Christ is not a
dry, sacrificial fast. It is the feast of heaven and earth. It is the table of
plenty. It transforms the routines and chores of the day into prayer. It takes
the dregs of the day and makes them a glorious gift to give back to our loving God.
Where do we find the focus to see through the
constant distractions and the downright disasters that visit every life? Our
God, in the form of Jesus Christ, gives himself to us today and every day, to
nourish our souls, to give our lives purpose and direction. And that direction
is one of hope and joy, knowing that we are on our way home to our loving
Father, confident that Christ is with us every step of the way.
In this week’s gospel, Christ’s invites us to
consume his love, to make it the bone and fiber of our being, to keep coming
back for seconds, to purge the toxins of sin and fill ourselves with joy. From
the loaves and fishes through this ongoing discourse on the Bread of Life, the
sixth chapter of John has a common theme: Trust in God. He loves you and will
provide for you. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord. Get
that straight and everything else will fall into place.