St. John continues his description of Jesus as the Bread of Life. Jesus tells us this throughout chapter 6 and we will continue to listen to Jesus, the Bread of Life, in the next two Sundays. The Eucharist means our perfect thanksgiving action that Jesus has given us to honor God and to be nourished by his words and his Body and Blood, that is, his very self. There are some similarities in the prophetic narrative given in the first reading that are striking.
Elijah wearied by his life struggles is hoping to die. An angel of the Lord, however, provides him with bread and water. He is able to continue on his journey and mission because he is fed with the bread coming down from the heavens at the hands of an angel.
We are able to continue our journey with Jesus when we are nourished by both the word of God spoken by Jesus and the Eucharist of his precious Body and Blood. By our daily partaking in prayer, we are nourished by the daily readings given to us in the Liturgy of the Word. Then in the Mass we are able to receive the Presence of Jesus himself as the Bread of Life. Far from being shocking, this is a mystery of faith showing us the magnanimous love of the Son of God for us. We are strengthened by this mystical food that will lead us into the experience of eternal life. “He who eats this bread will never die.”In a mystical and sacramental sense there is no death in the Gospel of John that can take away eternal life. Jesus is that Bread of eternal life.
Our Responsorial Psalm is one of the most beautiful in the Psalter. A rabbi from Long Island who participated with a Catholic priest in talking about the psalms, made it clear that this was indeed a most special psalm. He emphasized the line that says, “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.” (Psalm 34:9). The Psalm is in its contents a perfect prayer for thanksgiving after receiving Communion. This is true also for the Magnificat of Mary which is an excellent prayer after receiving the sacrament of the Eucharist. Mary in a true sense is one with Jesus in saying “This is my Body; this is my Blood.”
Our discourse on the Eucharist is expressed in the language of wisdom especially is chapter 6:35-51. Great trust and hope are expressed in the other verses of the Psalm that help knit the readings together on this Sunday.
There is the community involvement in the sacrament that is included in the words of the Psalm from a Christian perspective of faith. We are all being called to be thankful to the Lord when we taste and see God’s goodness. Amen.
Copyright 2012 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.