Manna and the Eucharist

First Reading: 1 Kngs. 19:4-8

Psalm: Ps. 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

SecondReading: Eph. 4:30-5:2

Gospel: Jn. 6:41-51

Today, Jesus attempts to link the Old Testament event of the feeding of the manna to the Israelites to his ego eimi or the “I am” sayings, that is, his being the bread of life. Whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.

As we all know, bread is something that is considered as staple for many cultures unlike in thePhilippinesandAsiawhere we tend to eat more of rice. But more than the physiological satisfaction that bread or rice gives us, it is good to ask: what do we feed ourselves for nourishment?

Nowadays, we hear of various ways by which we somehow pamper ourselves. We cannot seem to be contented with how things are. For those with curly hair, they want it to be straightened and vice-versa. Those who have darker skin they like to look fairer. Those who are excessively overweight go to health clubs so that they might trim down.

While some of what has been mentioned is commendable, it is good to ask whether we are able to do something to enhance the other aspects of our lives. Do we do something for our emotional and spiritual dimensions, which Jesus is likewise concerned? What have we done to nourish our relationship with Jesus? Do we make time for prayer? Or is prayer something we remember only when we have problems or are in need of help from Jesus?

Joseph Cardinal Bernardin was the former archbishop ofChicago,Illinois,USA. One of his most practical advices was that we should pray when we are still healthy because when the time comes that we are sick, it would be very difficult to focus our attention to God. He arrived at this conclusion because he himself experienced getting seriously sick, that is, his encounter with cancer. Isn’t this true? Just a simple running nose, headache and toothache make us easily distracted. What more for illnesses and diseases where pain can be so much that we feel so helpless as it cannot be sufficiently managed. During those times, it is easy to neglect the presence of Jesus as we are so enmeshed in our suffering.

But, in ways that we cannot fully comprehend, Jesus continues to offer himself to us. In our desperation, we are able to suddenly remember to call on him, whose availability and love are without question. These then are the moments that Jesus becomes truly the bread of life because from hopelessness, we become hopeful. From lack of meaning in life, we find reason to move on. We find that even in moments of weakness and insignificance, Jesus continues to sustain us and make us feel special. These, in the end, would only be experienced with the eyes of faith. Just as Jesus has become the bread of life to us, we are likewise invited to be bread too for others.

“I am the bread of life”, Jesus claims. It was a truly a difficult moment for the Jews for they were supposedly very familiar with Jesus’ background. They simply found him too much, too overwhelming. We too can find such a claim difficult to believe. But with constant reflection, openness of heart and mind, as well as faith, such a profound truth may be perceived and accepted.

Today, let us pray that we may experience true nourishment in our hearts, mind and body. May we grow in deeper relationship with him, who manifests in finding meaning in life. May we look forward to reaching the eternal life as he promised.

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