This Sunday we continue reading from John’s Gospel, Chapter 6, and we hear the famous statement by Jesus, ‘I am the bread of life’. Those who come to him will never be hungry and those who believe in him will never thirst.
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There is a popular song we sing at Mass called ‘I am the bread of life’ by Suzanne Toolen based on this verse.
My Father died 34 years ago, and I remember attending Mass the day after he died, and this song was being sung. These are the words of the second verse and chorus.
The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world, and he who eats of this bread, he shall live for ever, he shall live for ever.
And I will raise him up, and I will raise him up, and I will raise him up on the last day.
Dad ate the ‘bread of life’ many times throughout his life. Hearing the words of the hymn so soon after his death, was a huge comfort to me. Christ promises us here the gift of eternal life. That gift is Dad’s and that gift I believe will be yours and mine when we will not have to hunger and thirst anymore.
For us today, Jesus invites us to come to him for our hungers and thirsts to be satisfied. And there is a hunger in us, a thirst, a longing that we sometimes think can be filled by other things. They satisfy for a time, but they are not sustaining. We are all too aware of addictive behaviours that become destructive of our dignity and the dignity of others.
Christ reminding us that he is the ‘the bread of life’ wants to enter those places to heal and strengthen us and to remind us that we are not alone and left to our own devices.
Churches are places where Christ the bread of life is present and celebrated. These are sacred times and places. I was always moved by people who randomly came off the street to light a candle for a pressing need or loved one when I was a priest in Wellington at St Mary of the Angels and to spend time with the Lord in the silence of the Church. Perhaps that is something you are drawn to today or during the week.