1) OPENING PRAYER
Our living God,
we hunger for lasting life and happiness
and the fulfilment of all our hopes.
Satisfy all our hungers
through your Son Jesus Christ,who is our bread of life.
And when he has filled us with himself,
may he lead and strengthen us
to bring to a waiting world
the food of reconciliation and joy,
which you alone can give to the full.
We ask this thorough Christ our Lord.
2) GOSPEL READING - JOHN 6,22-29
Next day, the crowd that had stayed on the other side saw that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not got into the boat with his disciples, but that the disciples had set off by themselves. Other boats, however, had put in from Tiberias, near the place where the bread had been eaten.
When the people saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into those boats and crossed to Capernaum to look for Jesus. When they found him on the other side, they said to him, 'Rabbi, when did you come here?'
Jesus answered: In all truth I tell you, you are looking for me not because you have seen the signs but because you had all the bread you wanted to eat. Do not work for food that goes bad, but work for food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of man will give you, for on him the Father, God himself, has set his seal.
Then they said to him, 'What must we do if we are to carry out God's work?' Jesus gave them this answer, 'This is carrying out God's work: you must believe in the one he has sent.'
• In today’s Gospel we begin the Discourse on the Bread of Life (Jn 6, 22-71), which is extended during the next six days, until the end of the week. After the multiplication of the loaves, the people follow Jesus. They had seen the miracle; they had eaten and were satiated and wanted more! They were not concerned about looking for the sign or the call of God that was contained in all of this. When the people found Jesus in the Synagogue of Capernaum, he had a long conversation with them, called the Discourse of the Bread of Life. It is not really a Discourse, but it treats of a series of seven brief dialogues which explain the meaning of the multiplication of the bread, symbol of the new Exodus and of the Eucharistic Supper.
• It is good to keep in mind the division of the chapter in order to understand better its significance:
6, 1-15: the great multiplication of the loaves
6, 16-21: the crossing of the lake, and Jesus who walks on the water
6, 22-71: the dialogue of Jesus with the people, with the Jews and with the disciples
1st dialogue: 6, 22-27 with the people: the people seek Jesus and find him in Capernaum
2nd dialogue: 6, 28-34 with the people: faith as the work of God and the manna of the desert
3rd dialogue: 6, 35-40 with the people: the true bread is to do God’s will.
4th dialogue: 6, 41-51 with the Jews: the complaining of the Jews
5th dialogue: 6, 52-58 with the Jews: Jesus and the Jews.
6th dialogue: 6, 59-66 with the disciples: reaction of the disciples
7th dialogue: 6, 67-71 with the disciples: confession of Peter
• The conversation of Jesus with the people, with the Jews and with the disciples is a beautiful dialogue, but a demanding one. Jesus tries to open the eyes of the people in a way that they will learn to read the events and discover in them the turning point that life should take. Because it is not enough to follow behind miraculous signs which multiply the bread for the body. Man does not live by bread alone. The struggle for life without mysticism does not reach the roots. The people, while speaking with Jesus, always remain more annoyed or upset by his words. But Jesus does not give in, neither does he change the exigencies. The discourse seems to be a funnel. In the measure in which the conversation advances, less people remain with Jesus. At the end only the twelve remain there, but Jesus cannot trust them either! Today the same thing happens. When the Gospel beings to demand commitment, many people withdraw, go away.
• John 6, 22-27: People look for Jesus because they want more bread. The people follow Jesus. They see that he did not go into the boat with the disciples and, because of this, they do not understand what he had done to reach Capernaum. They did not even understand the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves. People see what has happened, but they cannot understand all this as a sign of something more profound. They stop only on the surface; in being satisfied with the food. They look for bread and life, but only for the body. According to the people, Jesus does what Moses had done in the past: to feed all the people in the desert. According to Jesus, they wanted the past to be repeated. But Jesus asks the people to take a step more and advance. Besides working for the bread that perishes, they should work for the imperishable food. This new food will be given by the Son of Man, indicated by God himself. He brings life which lasts forever. He opens for us a new horizon on the sense of life and on God.
• John 6, 28-29: Which is God’s work? The people ask: what should we do to carry out this work of God? Jesus answers that the great work of God asks us to “believe in the one sent by God”. That is, to believe in Jesus!
4) PERSONAL QUESTIONS
• The people were hungry, they eat the bread and they look for more bread. They seek the miracle and do not seek the sign of God who was hidden in that. What do I seek more in my life: the miracle or the sign?
• Keep silence within you for a moment and ask yourself: “To believe in Jesus: What does this mean for me concretely in my daily life?”
5) CONCLUDING PRAYER
Lord, I tell you my ways and you answer me;
teach me your wishes.
Show me the way of your precepts,
that I may reflect on your wonders. (Ps 119,26-27)