Jesus is the bread of life…
White bread, rye bread, wheat bread, pita bread, zucchini bread, and pumpernickel! Are the kinds of bread more popularly known. Biscuits, Scones, Baguettes, Bagels, Croissants, Tortillas, Pitas, Naan bread, Lavash, Pretzels, Pizza dough, are the kinds of bread listed by Wikipedia. Try to check the nearest bakery and you will see that they have at least 10-15 varieties of bread. Perhaps no food comes in as many varieties as bread. These great varieties of bread tell us very clearly that it is very important in our life. In fact, bread is very essential for our survival, that is why it known as the staff of life.
It is in this context of the great importance and necessity of bread for human survival that we have to understand the words of Jesus when he said, “I am the bread of life…” Jesus wanted to show that what he is, what he offers is as important, essential and vital for our survival as the bread we eat. When Jesus speaks of himself as the bread of life three things need to be considered.
First, it is not about physical satisfaction. When the Jews heard of Jesus telling them of the bread of life they thought of Moses who gave them manna while wandering in the dessert. But Jesus is greater than Moses. Moses fed their ancestors with bread yet they died; but Jesus will feed them with bread that gives eternal live. Jesus said, “Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”
Second, by eating the bread of life one becomes one with Jesus. As Jesus would say, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” Notice how Jesus eats: Jesus “takes” and “blesses” the bread and wine, these are actions reserved to a host, head, or guest of honor of the meal. Yet Jesus also “breaks” the bread and “gives” the wine—actions supposedly done by and proper to a servant. His intention is very clear, that there are no longer masters and servants, rather all are brothers and sisters. All are equal because they are one as Jesus lives in each and every one.
Third, one receives the bread of life by accepting Jesus himself in ones life. As the Gospel would put it, “Amen, amen I say to you unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drinks his blood you will not have life within you.” Jesus’ demand looks impossible and hard to swallow. It even looks unthinkable and unimaginable. Yet he or she who eats the body of Christ and drinks his blood is prepared to live what is unthinkable and unimaginable, that is, that Christ becomes alive in ones person and life.
By receiving Jesus, the bread of life in the Eucharist, a person participates in the bond of communion of Jesus offers to his friends. In the Eucharistic communion, a person shares in the fullness of life Jesus won for us by his death and resurrection, becomes united with Jesus, and commit him/herself to proclaim Jesus to others by the life he or she lives.
To end our reflection let me share with you a story related to us by one of the SVD missionaries who was assigned in Korea in the 80’s. He shared it I one of our recollections in CKMS. One day while he was celebrating a mass, he felt so uneasy in a way that he could not understand why. Nevertheless, he conscientiously proceeded with the celebration of the Holy Mass. The Mass proceeded as usual. While distributing communion, he noticed a woman who was kneeling on the first few becoming restless. She ignored the lady, and finished giving communion. Afterwards she approached the woman to check on her because it looks like she was choking. To his great surprise drops of blood were dripping from her lips. He asked the woman to open her mouth and lo and behold, there was a round shaped white flesh on her mouth. The Sacred Host literally turned into the real flesh of Jesus with blood coming out of it.
This missionary showed us pictures of this event, and there it was, as he told us. The woman was Julia Kim, a visionary, while the missionary who told us this story is Fr. Gerry Orbos, SVD. Miraculous events like these have happened as early as 700 AD and was verified by the Church to be authentic. They help us in our faith in Jesus’ real presence in the Eucharist. But more than a proof it is a constant testimony of Jesus, the Son of God who offered his life on the cross for our salvation. Amen.