NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD
In today’s gospel reading from St. John, Jesus identifies himself to the people saying, “I am the bread that came down from heaven”. This causes a bit of a reaction among the people to whom he says it, as they are apparently people who are familiar with Jesus and his family. The gospel says that the people “started to murmur in protest” because of Jesus’ statement about himself. They claim to already know the origins of Jesus and from whence he came. They claim him to be the son of Joseph and Mary. They question and challenge his claim that he “has come down from heaven”. Some of them are probably angered by Jesus’ statement and are at the point of throwing stones at him because of his blasphemy.
Jesus doesn’t let the people’s doubt and lack of faith sway him in his mission. He challenges them and tells them to “stop your murmuring”. He once again claims that he is the bread come down from heaven and that no one can know God the Father unless they accept God the Son. He tells the people that if they eat this “bread from heaven” they will live forever. Even though the gospel reading doesn’t comment on the people’s reaction to this second challenge of Jesus, we can imagine that some of them were drawn to him and wanted to learn more. Others probably continued in their anger toward him and were closed to anything more that he had to say to them.
Let us imagine for a moment that we are there that day hearing Jesus speak. What would our reaction be to Jesus’ claim that he has come down to us from heaven? We might like to think that our reaction would be absolute, unhesitating acceptance of Jesus, but in reality we might be confused by his claim and find it hard to accept. It is only through the grace of God that we can hope to comprehend this statement of Jesus about himself. To believe that someone has actually descended from heaven, let alone believe that he is bread that we should eat, might be a bit hard for us to understand. But, that is exactly what Jesus tells us in the gospel, and it is also exactly what our Catholic faith teaches us.
In the Eucharist we have Jesus present to us in so many ways. First, Jesus is present to us in his Word. We must listen to the readings at mass because it is there that Jesus instructs us through his Word. It is through listening to his Word that we come to know God the Father, as Jesus said. “No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Jesus is also present to us in the sacrament of Holy Communion. Jesus chose to be present to his Church after his resurrection in this way. He left the sacrament of the Eucharist with the Church so that he could continue to live in us. But do we take time to contemplate the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist? When we receive Communion by eating the bread at Mass, it is Jesus, the Bread from Heaven that we eat. We are doing what Jesus asks us to do in the Gospel today. “If anyone eats this bread, he will live forever.”