Not losing anything

jesus-and-disciplesThis coming Sunday, the 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time, we continue with the Gospel of John, chapter 6, the Bread of Life Discourse. This is the third of five Sundays from this important Johannine Eucharistic discourse. The sequence of Sunday gospels does leave out verses 6:35-41. The text from the 18th Sunday centers around Jesus challenging the people’s motivation for coming to Jesus. He tells them they only came to see more signs, eat their fill, but not really “work” for the bread that is eternal. The people not only do not understand Jesus’ point, but become bogged down in “what do I have to do to get it” as though they could accomplish this on their own talents and perseverance.  Continue reading

Murmuring, Moses, and Manna

jesus-and-disciplesThis coming Sunday, the 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time, we continue with the Gospel of John, chapter 6, the Bread of Life Discourse. This is the part of the discourse when people will start murmuring, questioning, not understanding, murmuring some more, and begin to push back of Jesus and the meaning of the miraculous feeding of the 5,000 + people. Continue reading

Through this belief

bread-of-life-tabernacle“But these are written that you may (come to) believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.” (Jn 20:31)

The Gospel of John is a wonderful gospel, rich in language, theologically vibrant and deep, and written, as it says. “…that you may (come to) believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God…” That you may come to believe… Continue reading

Our Deepest Desire

bread-of-life-tabernacleOne of the most famous and insightful sentences in Christian history comes from the first page of Saint Augustine’s Confessions. As the book unfolds, Augustine describes his extensive experiences with unfulfilled desire. And so as if to give his conclusion beforehand, in the very first paragraph of the book he writes, “Thou has made us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.” An insatiable craving, a psychic abyss, unsatisfied desire and desires, and the deep longing for a faraway land — all these point to and find fulfillment in God alone, despite our many failed experiments with all sorts of substitutes.

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Living Bread Come Down

Next Sunday is the celebration of the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. You can read a complete commentary on the Gospel here.

51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” 52 The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?” 53 Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.” (John 6:51-58) Continue reading

What we hear

The daily Mass gospels for this week (April 27-May 2) have covered John 6:22-69, known as “Bread of Life Discourse.” This same gospel discourse is covered during the middle of “Ordinary Time” in Year B of the liturgical cycle of readings. The discourse includes the highly Christological statement: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst” (John 6:35) Continue reading

…that you believe: the bread come down

bread-of-life-tabernacle41 The Jews murmured about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven,” 42 and they said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother? Then how can he say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered and said to them, “Stop murmuring among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets: ‘They shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me. 46 Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; 50 this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” (John 6:41-51) Continue reading

The bread come down: context

bread-of-life-tabernacle41 The Jews murmured about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven,” 42 and they said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother? Then how can he say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered and said to them, “Stop murmuring among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets: ‘They shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me. 46 Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; 50 this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” (John 6:41-51) Continue reading

The bread come down: losing nothing

bread-of-life-tabernacleA Missing Piece. The sequence of Year B Sunday gospels leaves out vv. 35-41. The text from today’s daily Mass gospel centers around Jesus challenging the people’s motivation for coming to Jesus. He tells them they only came to see more signs, eat their fill, but not really “work” for the bread that is eternal. The people not only do not understand Jesus’ point, but become bogged down in “what do I have to do to get it” as though they could accomplish this on their own talents and perseverance. Jesus response is that all one need do is believe – and the conversation returns to “show us another sign” and they up the ante – “and make it better than the one Moses did in the desert.” Dodd notes that “The ‘signs’ which the people expect from the Messiah are mere miracles; yet when they see a miracle they fail to see the ‘sign’; for to the evangelist a σημεῖον is not, in essence, a miraculous act, but a significant act, one which, for the seeing eye and the understanding mind, symbolizes eternal realities.” It is at this juncture that returns to the theme of “bread from heaven” only not the one, like the manna in the desert that will spoil, but one that last forever. Continue reading

…that you believe: living bread

Bread-of-Life-John-6Comes Down from Heaven. 32 So Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 So they said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.

At vv.12 and 27 (gathering the fragments after feeding the crowd and referencing perishable food), Jesus implicitly linked the feeding miracle with the manna story of Exodus 16. In v.32, he does so explicitly. For the second time in this chapter Jesus prefaces his remarks with the solemn, Amen, amen, I say to you. Jesus reworks four essential elements of v. 31: Continue reading