19th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Ages 3-6): Bread That is Holy
(Adults, the full Gospel this week is complicated. This reflection for the 3-6 year olds focuses on the last four verses beginning with "I AM the bread of life." You could begin by reading the four verses aloud to the child.)
John 6.48-51 (abbreviated)
[John 6.41-51 (full)]
Last week we heard Jesus say, "I AM the bread of life." In the Gospel for this Sunday, Jesus says it again.
I am the bread of life.
If Jesus says this again--if he repeats himself--we know this is important. Jesus really wants us to understand something. We wonder what it is that Jesus wants us to understand about himself.
Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.
Jesus is reminding us of manna, that mysterious bread that God gave so long ago. It was food for the people to help them live their lives. Eventually, the people died. Everyone dies. The manna bread was strange and special, but it was not holy.
This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.
What is Jesus pointing at when he says, "this is the bread that comes down from heaven"? He cannot mean the manna. There is no more manna. Jesus is talking about something else now. Something else is bread from heaven and eating of it means death is not the end.
I am the living bread that came down from heaven
Oh. Jesus is pointing at himself. Jesus is the bread that came down from heaven. And he is not strange mysterious bread like manna. Jesus says he is living bread. Jesus is bread that lives. Jesus is Life.
Whoever eats of this bread will live forever
What does Jesus mean "Whoever eats of this bread will live forever"? Does he mean they will not die?
We know that everyone dies. Death is real.
We know that Jesus dies on the cross. That is real, too.
But, when Jesus dies on the cross and his body is put in the tomb, is that the end? What do we know happens on the third day?
God fills Jesus with new life--Risen life. Death is real, but it is only part of all that is real. Jesus can never die again.
the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
Jesus' flesh is Jesus' body. He says the bread that he gives is his body.
The living bread is his body.
We have heard him say this before. At the Last Supper, before Jesus dies and rises to new life, he blesses the bread and says, "This is my body."
He gives this bread to his friends, this bread that is his body.
He gives this bread for the life of the world, this bread that is his body.
Jesus gives this bread that is his body--his body that dies because death is a real part of life.
Jesus gives this bread that is his body--his body that rises because death is not the end of Life.
What kind of life, then, is the living bread? Life that ends in death? No.
In the bread that is holy, is Jesus' Risen life.
The Bread of Life.