Bread is the stuff of life; it stands for something that sustains physical life. It is frequently used as a metaphor for food in general.
Ancient peoples attributed bread to the divinities. They prayed to the gods for a rich harvest to avoid famine in the land. For Israel, the Lord God is the giver of bread, from the fruit of the land he gave to Abraham and his descendants. In thanksgiving for the land flowing with milk and honey, the Israelites would bring the first fruits of the soil that God has given them (Dt 26:9-10).
Jesus says that God offers his people more: the true bread from heaven. This is different from the manna or any fruit of the earth, because this gives life to the world. He then states categorically: “I am the bread of life.” This bread come down from heaven is no longer material bread but a person: the Word of God who became flesh so he can give himself as bread for the life of the world.
FIRST READING • Acts 7:51—8:1a
Stephen said to the people, the elders, and the scribes: “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always oppose the Holy Spirit; you are just like your ancestors. Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute? They put to death those who foretold the coming of the righteous one, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become. You received the law as transmitted by angels, but you did not observe it.”
When they heard this, they were infuriated, and they ground their teeth at him. But Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and Stephen said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out in a loud voice, covered their ears, and rushed upon him together. They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him. The witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them”; and when he said this, he fell asleep.
1Now Saul was consenting to his execution.
GOSPEL • JOHN 6:30-35
The crowd said to Jesus: “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.” So Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
So they said to Jesus, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”
SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2021,” ST. PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 632-895-9701; Fax 632-895-7328; E-mail: [email protected]; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.