April 09, 2008

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Wednesday of the 3rd Week of Easter

John 6:35-40

The Bread of Life Discourse

Jesus in today’s gospel calls Himself the ‘Bread of Life.’ But why does Jesus call Himself the bread of life? All of us know that bread is our staple food especially in the western world. For Filipinos, rice is our staple food to satisfy our physical hunger and nourish our body. We cannot live long if there is no food. Bread sustains us. But what is ‘life’? Jesus teaches us that life is more than mere physical existence. It is a life that is connected with God, the author of life. It is a life of real relationship with God: a relationship of trust, love and obedience.

Jesus is our Bread of Life because first, He offers Himself as our spiritual food which produces the very life of God within us. Second, He promises unbroken friendship and freedom from the fear of being forsaken or cut off from God. And third, He offers us the hope of sharing in His resurrection.

But this part of the Bread of Life Discourse, Jesus emphasizes the necessity of believing especially that He calls Himself as the Bread of Life. Faith is the greatest requirement demanded of those who want to follow Him. The necessity of faith as our response and acceptance of Jesus in general and in particular, belief in His words even if we often interpret ‘Bread of Life’ as His Body and Blood. ‘Bread of Life’ is also about His Words. It is because Jesus says: “One does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God,” (Matt 4:4). An author said that in order to know somebody we need two things to reveal the other person about himself: his words and his deeds.

For our personal additional knowledge about the word ‘word’ is, it is logos in Greek. It is used in many places, but of special interest is how it is used of Jesus. In John 1:1 it says, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” The Word is divine and the word “became flesh and dwelt among us,” (John 1:14). In other words, Jesus is the Word of God who represents God to us and us to God.

But of course the term ‘word’ or logos is also used to describe the Scriptures (Rom. 9:6; Heb. 4:12), Christ’s teaching (Luke 5:1), and the gospel message (Acts 4:31). This Holy Scriptures is inspired because it is “inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness,” (2 Tim. 3:16). It is truth because “the sum of God’s word is truth,” (Ps. 119:160). It makes us free because Jesus says: “…If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). It produces faith because as St. Paul says: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ,” (Rom. 10:17). It judges because as the Letter to the Hebrews says: “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (4:12).

But what is more important is how we live the bread of Life which His words in our lives. And let us answer these questions too made by J. Wilbur Chapman for reflection: If today is the day of salvation, if tomorrow may never come, and if life is equally uncertain, how can we eat, drink and be merry when those who live with us, work with us, walk with us and love us are unprepared for eternity because they are unprepared for time? If I am to stand at the judgment seat of Christ to render an account for the deeds done in the body, what shall I say to him if my children are missing, if my friends are not saved, or if my employer or employee should miss the way because I have been faithless?

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