Acts 7:51-8:1a; Psalm 31; John 6:30-35
The Gospel today begins the Bread of Life discourse of Jesus. Despite being fed by Jesus, the people ask Jesus for a sign so they can believe. Apparently, the feeding of the crowd was not enough because they want a specific sign, one they expect: our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness as it is written “He gave them bread from heaven to eat.” Not content with being fed by Jesus, they demand that the food given to them should come from heaven. Jesus answers them: Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. This is an interesting exchange. When speaking of the bread in the desert used the past tense, because it happened already. But when speaking of the true bread from heaven, Jesus speaks in the present tense: My Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. This means the Father continues to give true bread from heaven. This giving does not end.
Jesus continues: for the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. With this, Jesus refers to himself as the bread of God. The people still thought Jesus was referring to physical bread so they ask Jesus to give them the bread. In John’s Gospel, Jesus always gives what people ask. In response, Jesus tells them: I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
Jesus is NOW, giving them the bread of life by revealing himself as the bread of life. He equates the bread of God that comes down from heaven to the bread of life. Both refer to Jesus. Life is found in Jesus Christ! If there is anything this worldwide lockdown has shown is life is not found in fame, fortune, riches. The virus does not choose who to infect: rich and poor, young and old. Our status in society today means nothing when our time comes to meet Jesus. We cannot bring our riches when we come before the One who created the universe. We cannot bring our position in society before the King of the universe. God is not intimidated by our riches, power, fame or authority on earth.
Jesus gives two criteria for receiving life:
- Come to me. This means to approach Jesus and acknowledge him as Lord. It is recognizing he is my Savior and I cannot save myself by my good works. In fact, God said in Isaiah 64:6 And we are all become as one unclean, and all our righteous acts as filthy rags. Salvation comes from the Lord.
- Believe in me. This means to trust him and obey him. Acknowledging Jesus as Lord means we trust him and more importantly, we obey him even if this means giving our lives for him.
Stephen, in the First Reading, shows what coming to Jesus and believing in him means. It is to believe in Jesus, to trust him even to death. Before he died, Stephen said, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. This is an example of trust to the Lord, to believe that whatever happens to us, we can trust God. The Psalm echos Stephen’s prayer: into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God, I trust in the Lord, I will exult and rejoice in your steadfast love.
Trusting in God means surrendering to him, believing he wants only the best for us. This is why our Blessed Mother is an example of complete trust in God. She said yes and surrendered her life to him, entrusting herself to his will when she said Be it done to me according to your word.
During these days of lockdown, there are a lot of uncertainties, especially for those working in the front lines. We pray for their protection from harm. Many who are not in the front lines are also affected. Some have lost their jobs. Some have lost their savings. Some have died, or lost their loved ones. In the midst of these sufferings and uncertainties, there is only one thing that is sure: God is in control, even if it does not seem like. God may seem to be absent, God may seem to have abandoned you. But Jesus invites us: come to me and you will not hunger. Believe in me and you will not thirst. This goes beyond physical hunger and thirst. Jesus refers to fullness of life in the midst of the sufferings we have. God is not the source of these sufferings, but he is in the midst of them. He is in our midst when we come to him and believe him.
Lord, I want a life that is beyond what I have now. I am scared, I am overwhelmed, I am insecure, I am broken. You said if I come to you, I will never hunger; if I believe in you, I will never thirst. Here I am. I come to you and allow you to enter my life. I believe in you and surrender my life to you. Take control Lord because I am tired. Into your hand, I commit my spirit because you are my Redeemer, a faithful God and I will exult and rejoice in your steadfast love.