Reflections on the Readings for Sunday 26 June 2011
Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14b-16a; Psalm 147:12-15, 19-20; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17; John 6:51-58
When Jesus multiplied the loaves and fish to feed a large crowd of people, his popularity soared. Here was someone who could solve people’s problems in a very tangible way. No wonder they wanted to make him king! But Jesus refuses to be treated as a magician-on-demand. He also wants people to be able to see beyond the sign (the miracle) to the reality to which it points.
Jesus’ words come in the context of a discussion of the gift of manna, the ‘bread from heaven’ which is the theme of our Old Testament reading. God had called his people to an adventure of faith. As God led them through the wilderness on their journey to the Promised Land, God was shaping a people to be God’s own. The provision of the manna was so much more than a flashy way to meet their food needs – it was part of shaping them into the people of God. Because they could not hoard it or it would rot overnight, they had to rely upon God’s gracious provision day to day. They had to live out the faith expressed in the words of the Our Father: “Give us this day our daily bread’. The gift of the manna gave them the opportunity to grow their relationship with God and their life of faith.
In what has become known as the Eucharistic Discourse, Jesus, using vivid and shocking images, stresses that the gift he offers is his very self. Just as Jesus gave full expression to the life of God, so we too become bearers of that life source as we relate to God through Jesus Christ. What he is calling for is a radical identification with and participation in his own God-incarnating life, so that that same life becomes the powerhouse at the centre of our own being. This is the symbolism of the Eucharist. And Paul reminds us of one of its important implications: because we derive our spiritual life from one source, we are connected at a fundamental level with God and with one another.