Our world today needs a Savior as much as any time in salvation history. In our day, many want to deny the existence of God or at least ignore God in order to have the false freedom to live as they wish. But the truth is that the immortal God took on our human condition in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus was truly human and divine in one person.
The places where Jesus lived and taught make his humanity and his reality accessible to us today. What he taught, the miracles he wrought, his death and resurrection make manifest his divinity.
The Gospel reading today once again returns to the Eucharistic discourse from John. Here, we see Jesus preaching at the synagogue in Capernaum. (pictured right) This synagogue is also just about 300 feet from the house of St. Peter.
Capernaum was a small village along the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. A major travel corridor, the Via Maris, brought ‘world travelers’ to its doorstep. It was a crossroad for the human family of Jesus’ time, and a perfect place for him to exercise his ministry. One’s imagination can easily see Jesus preaching and teaching here.
As Jesus begins to reveal his true identity, people struggle to make sense of how a ‘man’ can claim to have God as his Father. “my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.” (John 6:32) Jesus persists (and insists) with this fascinating teaching:
Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me, because I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me. And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day. (John 6:37-40)
Because Jesus is the Son of God, he is also the Bread of Life, as he also teaches in this location:
Amen, Amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I give is my flesh for the life of the world. (John 47-51)
As today, many who heard these words from the very mouth of Jesus found them hard to believe, and they left him. (John 6:66) Let us not persist in our disbelief, but follow in the belief of true disciples, which is expressed so beautifully by St. Peter when Jesus asked him: “Do you also want to leave?” (vs. 67)
Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God. (John 6:68-69)