Theme: JESUS THE BREAD OF LIFE
Today is the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us that Jesus is the bread of life! For the past three Sundays, inclusive of today, and for the next two Sundays, the gospel is on the bread of life. The gospel is taken from John chapter 6!
The bread of life is the revelation of God in Jesus Christ! Jesus is the bread of life, that is, Jesus is the revelation of God! (CSB) But with the gospel today, the Eucharistic theme emerges! Thus the last verse of today’s gospel:
“I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world.” (Jn 6:51; SM)
This is the first time that the “bread” is spoken of as “flesh”! Thus the Eucharistic theme! Next Sunday the Eucharistic theme will be developed in all its fullness! (Jn 6: 51-58; CSB)
The gospel today tells us that Jesus is the bread of life and that the Jews ate bread in the desert and they are dead. But Jesus is the bread that comes down from heaven so that a man may eat it and not die! More importantly, the gospel today tells us that Jesus is the bread come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever. And the bread that Jesus gives is his flesh for the life of the world! Thus we read in the gospel today:
“I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the desert and they are dead; but this is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that a man may eat it and not die. I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world”. (Jn 6: 48-51)
We may think that material bread is for this life and spiritual bread is for the next life. Material bread is not good enough for this life, or for the next life. Material bread is not good enough for the next life or for this life. Only spiritual bread is good enough for this life and for the next life. Only spiritual bread is good enough for the next life and for this life. This is because we are created in the image of God! And God is Spirit! We are spiritual beings! We are to love as God loves and we are to forgive as God forgives!
Thus the second reading tells us not to make the Holy Spirit sad by committing sins. We have been sealed with the Holy Spirit in Baptism for our final redemption on the last day! We have to love as Jesus Christ loved us, even to the point of sacrificing himself for us; and we have to forgive as God has forgiven us in Jesus Christ.
The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the prophet Elijah after defeating the false prophets of Baal was pursued by the wicked queen Jezebel who wanted to kill him.
Elijah escaped into the desert and wanted to die. In fact, he asked God to take away his life. He was suicidal. But God gave him bread (GNB) and water. God gave him bread and water twice and Elijah was strengthened and walked for forty days and forty nights to mount Horeb/Sinai to meet God!
The bread that God gave to Elijah symbolizes the bread of life that Jesus gives to us on our pilgrimage to heaven to meet God our Father!
The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:
“Taste and see that the Lord is good”. (Ps 33 (34): 9; SM)
The responsorial psalm is a thanksgiving for deliverance (CSB) and in the context of today’s liturgy and readings; it is a thanksgiving for deliverance from death by the gift of the bread of life! Thus again, the response: “Taste and see that the Lord is good”.
“This psalm was used in the early Church during the time of communion.” (Fuller)
Today in this Mass we thank God for his Son Jesus Christ the food of eternal life and we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit so that we can love as Jesus Christ loved us and so that we can forgive as God has forgiven us in Jesus Christ and so that there will be unity and peace (shalom) in the world! A happy and holy Sunday to all of you!
Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.