Reflection on Today’s Daily Readings by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: April 16. Lectionary # 271. Acts 5:34-42. Psalm 27:1,4.123-14.
There are six occasions recorded in the Gospels when Jesus multiplies
the loaves and fish on the hillside of one of the Gallilean slopes (Mark
6:32-44; Mark 8:1-10; Matthew 14:13-21; Matthew 15:32-39; Luke 9:10b-17 and
our scripture for today in John 6:1-15). The synoptic gospels also have
Jesus’ instituting the sacrament of the Eucharist at the Last Supper. They
give us the words of Jesus, “This is my Body; This is my Blood.” John,
however, does not have such words in the gathering of the disciples for the
Passover meal. The Fourth Gospel gives us the sacramental perspective on
the Eucharist in the chapter that we are listening to today. In fact, the
whole chapter is about Jesus being the Bread of Life.
Chapter six presents us with the third of seven signs that the
Evangelist give us. Each sign (semion) is not presented as something
magical or miraculous but as a signal or sign to help the ones involved to
come to a deeper faith commitment to Jesus. As the liturgical hymn has it
“Look beyond what you see….” John does not use the word miracle but sign
in order to give it the deeper meaning of a faith commitment to Jesus.
Thus chapter six illustrates what Jesus does and then what he as Wisdom
says and then concludes with the last discourse on the Eucharist in very
startling and realistic words. Jesus reveals to us the meaning of the Bread
of Life through the Wisdom discourse and then shows how the Eucharist
replaces the manna for the Christian believer.
Fr. Brown tells us that the two discourses deepen what we have
learned about the Eucharist from other sources in the New Testament: “The
themes of 6:35-51z are duplicated but now in language evocative of the
eucharist. Indeed, 6:51b “The bread that I shall give is my own flesh for
the life of the world,” might well be the Johannine eucharist formula
comparable to “This is my body which is given for you” of Luke 22:19, I
Corinthians 11:24. Taken as a whole the two parts of the discourse in John
6 would reveal that Jesus feeds his followers both through his revelation
and his eucharistic flesh and blood.”
Many find the words of Jesus too realistic and no longer walk with
him or believe in him, but those disciples who do will be given not only
the gift of faith in Jesus but also his most intimate love (agape). What
they and we learn about this gift of love foreshadowed in chapter six if
fully revealed in chapters 13-17 of John’s Gospel. The sign of faith in
chapter six becomes Jesus’ gift of love in these final chapters before his
suffering, death, and resurrection. All of these chapters mentioned are a
treasure trove for this season of Easter which leads us to meditate on both
our Baptism in Christ and our union with Christ through the Eucharist.