Gospel Reflection for August 1, 2021 – 18th Sunday Ordinary Time
Sunday Readings: Exodus 16.2-4,12-15; Ephesians 4.17,20-24; John 6.24-35
“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” – John 6.35
The crowds that Jesus fed last week want another sign if they are to believe Jesus is from God. They fail to see that Jesus’ teaching, healing, loving presence is the sign of God among them. In Jesus’ conversation with the crowd, John’s gospel traces a step-by-step invitation to faith. With the crowd asking for the life-giving bread of God, Jesus has them ready to see who he really is. He announces, “I am the bread of life.”
In his gospel John deliberately claims for Jesus the divine name I am, a name so holy that the people of Israel never pronounce it aloud but say Adonai instead. God reveals the name Yahweh to Moses at the burning bush. The name means I Am Who Causes to Be. Repeatedly in John’s gospel Jesus uses the divine I am to reveal himself.
As if identifying himself as the divine I Am were not a sufficient leap of faith, Jesus tantalizes the crowd with the paradox that whoever comes to him will never be hungry and whoever believes in him will never be thirsty. Jesus first calls the crowd beyond the bread they have eaten to see its source, God the creator of life, and then calls them to put their faith in him, the one whom God has sent.
Only faith in Jesus, the living bread, will satisfy our hunger forever. Those who eat the bread of life take this food inside themselves. In this act they express their wholehearted faith that Jesus comes from God, and they become themselves God’s bread for others.
What causes you to lose faith? What strengthens your faith in Jesus? Who do you feed in your daily life and work?