Photo illustration by Phil Younk
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Based on 1Kgs 19:4-8; Eph 4:30-5:2; Jn 6:41-51

Food, drink and meals are often referred to in the Old and New Testaments.

Bread was the necessary, basic food. In Hebrew, “to eat bread” meant “to have a meal.”

Bread was treated carefully. It was not cut but instead was broken. The poor ate bread made from barley; the rich ate bread made from wheat. The women of the family ground the grain between two millstones and kneaded (punched down) the dough.

Yeast was put into the dough to make it rise. The exception was at Passover when unleavened (without yeast) bread was prepared.

The dough was shaped into round loaves and baked in home ovens. No matter how careful the women were in making and storing the bread, it became moldy quickly, especially during the summer. That’s why fresh bread had to be made every two or three days.

In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus says he is the Bread of Life come down from heaven. The people listening are confused. They see Jesus as a human being – a very good carpenter who has become a great teacher and caring healer.

Now Jesus speaks of being the Son of God. They complain and don’t understand his message. Jesus was inviting them, and invites us, to a special friendship with him.

In Jesus’ time, bread was the necessary, basic food in all households. This is also true for us today. Without bread, without food, our physical life would end.

Without Jesus in the Eucharist, our spiritual life and special friendship with God would end. It’s that simple – and important. Jesus says, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

Jesus who taught about God’s love and who died on the cross and rose from the dead, is the same Jesus, Body and Blood, we receive in Communion at Mass. When we receive Jesus in Communion, he helps us to pray, to love, to forgive, to care and to share just as he did.

Our friendship with Jesus is not a temporary fix just to make our life on earth easier. Jesus continually extends his hand to help us – not only now but to lead us to eternal life in heaven with him, his goal for each of us. Totally awesome!