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From a carpenter’s son the bread from heaven

In the last part of last Sunday’s passage, we heard Jesus declare, “I am the bread of life.” He is the bread as the wisdom of God. Anyone who assimilates his proposal will satisfy the hunger and thirst for happiness and love (John 6:35).

Faced with this unprecedented demand, the Jews react in the strongest possible terms.

They are convinced that they already have the bread that satisfies: the Torah, the word of God contained in the scriptures. 

Baffled, the Jews did not speak directly to Jesus, but they murmur among themselves. To murmur does not mean to raise some reservations, but to challenge, reject the provocative and scandalous affirmation that they have heard.

It is unacceptable that Jesus claims to embody the wisdom of God, to reproduce in his own person the Lord thrice holy. 

For some, the humanity of Christ is the intermediary that leads to God, for others it is an impediment. Today, as in the past, the positions taken in front of him are diversified, ranging from the enthusiastic welcome, indifference, rejection, and resentful opposition.

In the Gospel of John, the word Jew does not have an ethnic-geographical connotation, but theological.

It indicates to anyone who takes a hostile attitude to Jesus and refuses to believe that he is the full and definitive revelation of God.

The evangelist is not interested in the reaction of the Jewish people 2,000 years ago. What presses him is to explain to his readers that today they are faced with an alternative and have to choose between the wisdom of the gospel, which is the bread of life and the cunning of the world, which is the poison of death. Today they are being asked to believe that in Christ all the wisdom of God is present.

Unfortunately, today, as then, many simply recognise Jesus as the wise man who has shown the paths of justice and peace, one of the many prophets, perhaps the greatest of the prophets.

While esteeming, they consider him a mere man Joseph’s son and do not realise or refuse to accept that he is the Only Begotten of the Father (John 1:14).

They do not believe that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life” (John 3:16).

The question then is just one: Do I let myself be taught by the Spirit of Christ, or, as the Jews of Jesus’ time, reject the bread of heaven and prefer the food of death?

Now Jesus invites them to eat his flesh. The manna that the Israelites tasted in the desert did not communicate the fullness of life, in fact, all died.

Only those who eat the bread from heaven will live forever. The Semitic concept of the flesh is not identified with the muscles.

It indicates the weak, fragile, precarious part of a person. It refers to the whole person as destined to die. 

To eat this God made flesh means to recognise that through the carpenter’s son comes the full revelation of God.

It means to accept the wisdom from heaven even if he sees it covered with flesh, that is, of all fleeting aspects that characterise our human weakness.


 λ Father Fernando Armellini cmf
     Claretian Publications