by Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace
As I mentioned in introducing the Gospel, we have been listening over the last two or three weeks to reflections that John has put into his Gospel about that miracle that Jesus performed in the desert, where with the five loaves and the two fish he fed over 5,000 people. So after that extraordinary event, John begins to reflect on the meaning of this miracle because in John’s gospel, miracles are always called “signs.” They are indications of something else.
In this case, Jesus himself points out that this miracle is like what happened in the desert way back when the Jewish people were fleeing from Egypt and they were beginning to find themselves in a desperate place without food, without water, and God provided for them. You remember, Jesus compared what he did in the desert with that event in the Old Testament, only he says, “As God gave your ancestors manna in the desert and then they died, I am the living bread. The miracle I have performed is a sign of who I am and I am the living bread. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever.” Then when some say, “How can this be?” “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you will have no life in you. But if you do, you have eternal life.”
That’s one of the things that I think is important to notice about this Scripture. Jesus is telling us that for all of us who share in this banquet, this Eucharist, the feast of the body and blood of Jesus, we begin to live eternal life now. Most of us, I believe, probably think eternal life is something we gain after we die. It will be that new life as we transition into the full presence of God...