18th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Ages 3-6): God Gives
(Adults, you could begin by reading the Gospel aloud to the child. Alternatively, you could read the first paragraph of the reflection to the child, then read the Gospel, and then continue with the reflection.)
Last week we listened as Jesus makes a great crowd of people sit down so that he can feed them. In Jesus' hands, a little bit of bread becomes enough for everyone, with some left over. Jesus wants them to know that the Kingdom of God is like this. Everyone full, and no one hungry. In the Gospel reading this week, the crowd returns, looking for Jesus again.
Jesus knows why they have come. He says,
“Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.
The crowd of people likes the sign of the Kingdom of God. Even more, though, the people like their bellies full of the bread Jesus gives them. Perhaps they are getting hungry again. Jesus wants them to be fed, but he wants even more for them to know the Kingdom of God.
The people, though, want bread. They remind Jesus that long ago, before he was born, their families were given a special kind of bread called manna.
“Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
Bread from heaven? Who is from heaven?
The people must be talking about God. They are reminding Jesus that God gave them bread long ago. It has happened before. They would like it to happen again.
Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you...it is my Father who 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.”
The people say God gave them bread from heaven.
Jesus says God gives them bread from heaven.
What is the difference?
If someone gave us bread, do we have the bread anymore? Probably not. Bread that was given gets old. It gets stale or mouldy and no one can eat it anymore. But if someone gives us bread, we have the bread with us, don't we? The giving never stops. The bread of God, Jesus says, gives life to the whole world.
They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
The people want this bread. If God is giving it, they want it. They want the life that comes from God.
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life.
Whoa. This is huge. The bread that God never stops giving, the bread that gives God's life to the world, is Jesus. God never stops giving Jesus; Jesus gives God's life to the world. What a gift! How good it is that we know Jesus!
It seems a little unusual to think about Jesus as bread. We do not think of other people as bread. But bread is special to Jesus. He looks at bread in an interesting way. We know that at the Last Supper before he dies and rises to new life, Jesus blesses the bread and says, "This is my body." He gives this bread to his friends, this bread that is his body. The bread of life.
We know that his body dies on the cross, but on the third day, God fills Jesus with new life--eternal life. Jesus can never die again. His body--the bread--is Risen. The bread of Life.
Jesus is the bread of life, the bread of God who gives life to the world.
Jesus is the bread of life, that God never stops giving to us.
Jesus is the bread of life--how good it is that we know Jesus!