19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Following on from the sign of the miraculous feeding of the five thousand and building on the Jewish tradition of Moses, the mana in the desert and the giving of the law, Jesus has brought us to the moment when he tells us “I am the law, I am the bread from heaven, I give eternal life, I fulfill the plan of God, only in me will you find true life, eternal life”.
The listeners can’t accept this, they know Mary and Joseph, Jesus’ cousins and wider family members. How can he claim to be from heaven.
St John the gospel writer is making an important point here. If Jesus, the person Jesus is the new law, the bread from heaven, the source of eternal life, the answer to everything then we need to know him. To know someone properly you do need to know their family their friends, the people who are most important to them, because these people are a part of who and what they are.
The people don’t know Jesus, they can’t accept his claim because they do not know the Father. They do not know the relationship between the Father and the Son which is what makes Jesus who and what he is. Jesus is sent by the Father, to listen to Jesus is to listen to the Father, Jesus alone has seen the Father, to be taught by Jesus is to be taught by the Father.
To know God, to do the works of God, to be fed by God, all of which the Jewish people longed for, is to know Jesus whom the Father has sent, Jesus who makes the Father known. Jesus is the food, the bread that gives us life.
His words are addressed as much to us as to the listeners in the Gospel. If we want to do God’s will, if we want eternal life, we must be fed by the bread that is Jesus and we must know him and be part of his relationship with the Father.
And at the end of this part of his teaching Jesus makes it clear that he is not just speaking metaphorically or in images or in similes. I am the bread come down from heaven and the bread that I shall give is my flesh for the life of the world.
Now next week is the feast if the assumption so we miss the last part of Jesus teaching. I urge you to read it in St John’s Gospel.
Practically, for us: pray. Praying is to enter, by the power of the Holy Spirit into the heart of God, to become part of that relationship, love, conversation, between Father and Son. Get to know the person, get to know Jesus. Second prepare for, reverently receive, Holy Communion. The one who is everything we need, without whom we will die for ever, gives himself to us in Holy Communion, by receiving him we will draw closer to him in prayer, by drawing closer to him in prayer we will recognise him more clearly in Holy Communion.