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Bread from heaven from a carpenter’s son

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 Holy Scriptures (Sirach 15:3). ‘Jews’ do not need other bread and cannot admit a man who proposes himself as the “bread of life.”
 In the Gospel of John, the word “Jew” indicates anyone who takes a hostile attitude to Jesus and refuses to believe that he is the full and definitive revelation of God, not to the race of the Jews.
What presses John is to explain to the ‘Jews of today’, that 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 but 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).
In the last part of this passage Jesus makes the startling revelation: in order to have life, it is a must “to eat the bread which is 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, human person as mentioned in Psalm 78:39: “he remembered that they were but flesh, a breeze that passes and never returns” (Psalms 78:39). When, in the prologue of his Gospel, John says: “The Word was made flesh” (John 1:14), he does not refer to the fact that the Son of God assumed our outward appearance, but that he made himself similar to us, welcoming even the most precarious of our condition.
“To eat” this God made flesh means to recognise that through “the carpenter’s son” goes 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. Later the discourse will lead into the Eucharist which we will discuss on next Sunday.
● Father Fernando Armellini SCJ 
Claretian Publications
Translated by Father John Ladesma SDB
Abridged by Father Jijo Kandamkulathy CMF