Apparently not satisfied by Jesus’ feeding of thousands, some who were there press him for a sign of his power; perhaps it is daily manna they want. As always in John’s gospel when people want a sign, Jesus offers himself. He is the bread come from heaven to give life to the world. He calls us to come to him and believe in him, and through that relationship to know the one who sent him.
Readings and Psalm
- Exodus 16:2-4, 9-15
The Lord gives manna in the wilderness
- Psalm 78:23-29
God rained down manna from heaven; so mortals ate the bread of angels. (Ps. 78:24, 25)
- Ephesians 4:1-16
Maintain the unity of the faith
- John 6:24-35
Christ the bread of life
From Rumbling Tummies to Living Bread
Today’s texts move us from rumbling tummies and flaring tempers to a refocusing on the blessings poured out and the primary benefactor. We see the gifts of God, which come in a variety of ways: physical nourishment, roles and talents lifted up in community, new life given now and into the ages of ages. We find that the gifts are responses to various actions—complaining, building for the future, longing for signs of promise and hope. Yet each of these actions and the gifts mean little if we are not able to see the one who is the giver and to recognize that the gifts are not merely about what we can do to get them or what signs are needed to prove them; rather, it is about trust in God, who is the source of life and living—the one who provides the true bread from heaven. Our role in this story is to tell the history of God’s giving, similar to the psalmist. It is to open our eyes to the way the bread of heaven is sustaining us today, physically and spiritually. And as a community living in God’s promise, we look to the one God sends to us as the bread of life. In many early Hebrew and Greek writings, the stomach was a driving force and a place where hope and faith were lodged. The readings point us to see how a longing for food opens a greater dwelling place for the gifts of faith and promise. From our physical depths we are called to experience a greater spiritual reality.