Jesus is the Bread of Life. “Whoever eats this bread will live forever!”
Alleluia, alleluia. I am the living bread that came down from heaven, says the Lord; whoever eats this bread will live forever. Alleluia.
Gospel (Jn 6:51-58)
Jesus said to the Jewish crowds: “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.” The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 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. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. 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. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”
Today we are celebrating the sacrament of the Eucharist, which the Lord has given us as a sign of his presence, of his bodily reality, of his sacrifice on the Cross and of the eternal life he called us to share. Jesus speaks to us in terms of food. The reality of the gift of the Father to our humanity is expressed, from the beginning to the end, in the form of body. This refers at first to the carnal reality of the body made of flesh and blood that suffers and dies on the Cross. It is this wounded body that rises and that Jesus shows to the sight and touch of the apostles. But Jesus does not stop here. His body is also the Church (Col 1, 18), the mystical body of which Christ is the head, and it is finally this sacramental body that nourishes those who eat it: “Take and eat: this is my body!” (Mt 26, 26).
Even the early Christians compared the broken body of Christ to wheat, ground like flour to become bread, after being mixed with the water of life and passed into the fire of the Spirit. This spiritual bread made from wheat of the field that is Jesus (Jn15,1), becomes our food, likewise the wine of the Eucharist nurtures in us the divine life. And Jesus, once again says: “I am”. Here he says: “I am the bread”. Jesus is the only food that can give us eternal life. Those who do not eat this bread will not have life in them (Jn6,53). This is why we celebrate today the divine and human reality of the Word made flesh and that of the risen body. Through Him, we are truly in communion with our God. We are called to be present to his real presence.
With Nazarene eyes
SA-FA spirituality emphasizes the relationship between the mysteries of the Eucharist and of the Incarnation. The Eucharist extends along the centuries the mystery of Nazareth, overcoming the limits of time and space and making it always present and actual. The entry of God into human history continues to take place through the celebration of the Eucharist and, through it, it will go along with the Church and humanity until the end of time. Bread and wine, tangible elements of nature chosen by the Lord to be with us, already say something of the intimacy, simplicity and humility of the mystery of Nazareth. In some cultures these foods never lack in everyday life; so the meaning of the feast is included. We have to manifest this same mystery with gestures, postures and liturgical actions of the Eucharistic celebration that help us to recognize us as the family of the children of God convened and gathered around his table. The Eucharist forms the Church as a family.
The Church has used for a long time, even in the liturgy, the expression “hidden God” taken from the prophet Isaiah (“In truth, you art a God that hides himself, O God of Israel, the Savior”, 45, 15) by applying it both to the mystery of Nazareth and the mystery of the Eucharist. In the first, it underlines “the hidden life of Jesus in relation to his “public life” and also his human condition referred to the Word in the Trinity. In the Eucharist, it highlights the contrast between the appearance of the sacramental species and the reality of the presence of Christ. In both cases, we are invited to adopt the humility and simplicity of the shepherds who hurried to Bethlehem and knew how to discover with faith and love the Savior of the world with Mary and Joseph.
The centrality of the Eucharist in the life of the Christian is underlined by the charism of Bro. Gabriel Taborin. His successor, Bro. Amadeus, says that the foundation of the Institute is due to the love of Bro. Gabriel for the Eucharist. The purpose of the lay animation (lay ministries) of Fr. Gabriele was to lead the people of God to the Eucharist. (Handbook of spirituality)
Let us pray
Praise the Lord, Jerusalem (SAL148)
Everything becomes a reason to give praise to God. And in Nazareth Jesus, Mary and Joseph have often joined the choir of their fellow villagers to sing this hymn. But in Nazareth a moment of ecstasy is happening; Jesus will summarize it thus: “I thank you, Father, because these things you have revealed to little ones as Mary and Joseph and to those who resemble them”. Only the pure of heart will perceive how sublime the name of the Lord is. (Bro. Lino Da Campo)
Recognizing in the Body and Blood of the Lord the true nourishment for our life, let us pray to the Father to give us the grace to be authentic Christians. Let us offer our tangible solidarity to the poor, as we help them as brothers we love, and let us pray for those who are in trial; may they find in the Eucharist the spiritual food to be reborn to new life.
O God, you have given us your Son Jesus as Savior and Redeemer, make us assiduous in breaking the bread of the word and receiving Communion, so that we may be sustained in the paths of the world toward the true life that is definitive and eternal communion with You.