Memorial of saint Athanasius

(Jn 6, 30-35)

The crowd said to Jesus:
“What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you?
What can you do?
Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written:

He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”

So Jesus said to them,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven;
my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.
For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven
and gives life to the world.”

So they said to Jesus,
“Sir, give us this bread always.”
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life;
whoever comes to me will never hunger,
and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

Bread symbolizes life since it has the capacity to sustain biological life. Used in the spiritual sense, it is God’s providential love who assures His people’s life by giving them sustenance they need. Bread is a tangible sign of God’s commitment to uphold Israel’s well-being especially in the harsh conditions of the desert. Thus the manna in the desert experience of Israel has deep religious and spiritual impact in the life of the Jews of that time.

No wonder then that they ask Jesus for the tangible sign. If He comes from God as Moses did, He must perform for them a miraculous sign. The funny thing is, the sign sought by the Jews already in front of them. Jesus was the heavenly bread that came down from heaven, more potent than the manna in the desert. Those who ate it died, but those who would listen to Jesus’ words will have life eternal. And so He has to introduce Himself to them. “I am the Bread of life …” Silence, then utter disbelief followed. Others were dismayed. Others were perplexed. Some made a jump to an act of faith. That day when Jesus disclosed who He is, the individuals who made a choice choose their future fate.

Fr. Paulson V. Veliyannoor, CMF.


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