The discussion between Jesus and the Jews about the ‘bread of life’ continues. Once again his listeners are stuck with human ways of perception. They cannot accept that there is anything more to Jesus than the man who was brought up in Nazareth. What sense can they make of him ‘coming down from heaven’?
Jesus challenges their quarrelling and seeks to move the discussion to a deeper level. The focus of these verses is on Jesus as the one who brings true teaching. To learn from Jesus is to be fed indeed. To learn from Jesus is to come to know the Father. The stress is once again on believing in the words of the Son. These words, even in this present life, bring eternal life. Unlike the manna in the desert, the bread Jesus offers is a pledge of eternal life.
In the final verse we have the first reference to the ‘flesh’ of Jesus: ‘the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world’. The emphasis in this and the following verses will be on the Eucharist.
We are reminded of the self-giving of Jesus at the Last Supper and at the cross. Jesus is the Bread of Life both in his words of life, and in the sacrament of his body and blood. The reaction of his hearers is predictably one of puzzlement, as the following verses will show.
Do I really value the teaching of Jesus as revealing the Father?
Do I treasure the coming of Jesus in Word and Sacrament at Mass?
We pray that we may move beyond earthly perceptions to openness to the things of God.
We pray that the Bread of Life will truly nourish us as individuals and as community.