“It was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.” (John 6:32)
The Israelites were yearning for a romantic past. Selectively forgetting the thirst and weariness of their long desert wanderings, they focused on remembering the miraculous manna that sustained them. Since Jesus was talking somewhat mysteriously to them about “true bread,” they demanded a sign similar to the manna their ancestors had gathered under the leadership of Moses.
You can imagine Jesus sighing. What further sign do they need besides the loaves he has just multiplied? So in response, he asks them to look more closely at the story of the manna. He corrects their mistaken view about the One who really did give the true bread, and about the new gift of bread that Jesus had just showered them with. More important, these mistakes lead them to miss the identity of the bread that mattered to them—his flesh and blood.
Jesus tells them that the giver of manna was God, not Moses. He also tells them that God’s miraculous actions are not confined to the past tense. Rather, right now he is offering them true life-giving bread. Finally, and most important of all, that bread is Jesus himself, the One who reveals God to them and who offers them divine, eternal life.
Sometimes we focus too nostalgically on the wonderful ways God has taken care of us in the past and lose sight of the ways he is at work in our lives today, right here and now. We may regret the passing of spiritual mentors who helped us come to know God. We may focus only on the blessings of the past, setting aside its struggles and challenges.
To counter this, Jesus gently but firmly invites us to come back to the present. He asks us to look up from our current disappointments and believe in his victory and trust in his provision. He urges us to enter into Word and Sacrament at Mass with an open, trusting heart, so that we can receive the living bread that he wants to give us—today!
“Jesus, you are the living bread. Come and fill me today, so that I can move forward in trust and love.”