18th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Ages 6-9): Life for the World
(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 heard about a few loaves of barley bread placed in Jesus’ hands to become food for all, for a great crowd of people. We know this abundance is a sign. No one hungry, everyone’s belly full of bread—we know this is a sign of what the Kingdom of God is like. In the Gospel for this Sunday, the people come looking for Jesus again. They want more.
When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “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 people have filled their bellies once, they have had a taste of something good, and they liked it. They do not want to think about what it means. Jesus knows that they just want more bread.
The people have come a long way to be fed. They are not going to give up on bread that easily. They challenge Jesus. If Jesus wants them to think about signs—fine. The people know something about signs and bread.
So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
The people remind Jesus of something that occurred long, long ago. The Bible tells the story of their ancestors—their great, great, great, great, (many, many great) grandparents—journeying through the wilderness. Their ancestors were led by Moses, a man called by God. When their ancestors were hungry, Moses gave them manna, a mysterious bread from heaven. Each day their ancestors ate enough bread to give them strength for the journey. Now the people want to know if Jesus can do what Moses did. Can Jesus give them bread from heaven?
Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven
Pardon? It was not Moses who gave their ancestors the mysterious bread for the journey? Someone did. It is written in scripture. Who was it? Who is the only One who can give bread from heaven?
but 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.”
Of course. It was God.
Actually, Jesus says, it is God. "It is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven." What can this mean?
What God did, God does. God never changes.
God gave bread for their ancestor's journey, God gives bread now.
Bread that is right and good.
Nothing wrong about this bread of God.
And what does this true bread do? It gives life to the world.
They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
The people want this true bread. They might have come wanting to be fed more barley loaves, but now? Now they have heard about life. Life for the world. Life given by God, and they want it.
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life.
Now it makes sense. The bread that God gives now is Jesus. What the people want is Jesus.
Jesus is the true bread.
Jesus is right and good.
Nothing wrong about Jesus of God.
And what does Jesus do? He gives life to the world.
What kind of life does Jesus give to the world?
Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
No more hunger. No more thirst. This is the vision of God. This is Parousia, the Kingdom of God complete. Could Jesus be the food we need to build the Kingdom here on earth? Could Jesus be our strength for this journey?
The people come to Jesus. They gather around him.
They see him, they touch him, they hear him say, "I am the bread of life."
But what about us? We cannot see him, can we? We cannot touch him, can we? We cannot hear him say, "I am the bread of life."
Or can we?
God knows we need bread for the journey, strength to build the Kingdom of God. When we come to him, when we gather at Mass, the priest takes the bread and repeats those other words of Jesus, the words from the Last Supper: "Take and eat, this is my body." His body that has died, his body that is Risen. We see and touch and taste the bread that is Jesus. The bread that is his Risen life.
The bread of life for the world.