Give You Eternal Life

08-01-2021Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

This weekend, we discover in our first reading that life was not easy for the Israelites as they left Egypt to go to the Promised Land. God had rescued them from the swords and whips of the Egyptians and now they had very tough going in the desert. They had adopted a typical human behavior of complaining unceasingly. When they quite bitterly and angrily complained of being hungry to God, he sent them manna, but they resisted that food. They continued to complain. It took Moses to point out to them that the manna was the answer to their prayers to God. They missed the obvious.

Our Gospel passage of this weekend is taken from the Gospel of John, the sixth chapter. It is near the start of the long famous "Discourse on the Bread of Life" which is in John's Gospel. We learn at the beginning of this passage that the people who were seeking out Jesus were not doing so because of their faith or belief in Him, but because they were hungry and wanted food, bread to eat. They did not see much beyond their own personal wants and needs. Jesus, however, is telling them about a deeper hunger in them. He told them about the everlasting bread which nourishes not only this life but also eternal life. They heard this differently than on a spiritual level and so they responded with the question of what did they have to do to get this special bread for themselves. Jesus told them they only had to believe, but they did not know what that meant so they asked for a sign. In response, He told them that the bread would last for eternity and that He was the Bread of Life which they sought. They had no recognition or understanding of what all of this meant.

This story certainly sounds like a repeat of the Israelites in the desert. God answers their request, but they do not recognize it. The next time you are at Mass, and you stand before the Minister and are offered the "Body of Christ" will you recognize that this is the bread you have been seeking. This is the bread which will give you eternal life.