Year B Pentecost 11 (4/8)

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Most of us love bread. When we eat bread, we are back in touch with the basic stuff of life, the ‘staff of life’, as bread is sometimes called. Bread can be fancy, with MasterChef elaborate creations, but in the end bread is basic. How do we understand this bread, this basic need to be fed?

In this week’s Gospel reading from John 6:24-35, we see the transformative nature of Jesus when he says, “I am the bread of life”. We know bread as a basic food. It can fill you up, it can be a side to a fancy meal, and there are so many kinds and shapes of bread. We might know what it is like to be hungry, to have no bread, and to have the gnawing feeling in the pit of our stomach when we go without food. We might also know the gnawing pain in the heart of our soul for something that gives a fullness of life and a joy of living.

Jesus promises that he is the bread of life, and he feeds us not only physically but spiritually. In the reading Jesus picks up on the historic experience of manna in the wilderness – that “bread from heaven” – that sustained the Israelites on their exodus from Egypt. Jesus says he is like that bread, come down from heaven to sustain us. Jesus urges us to know him as the bread who satisfies us when nothing else can.

In John’s Gospel there is no story of the Last Supper, no mention of ‘this is my body’ as in other Gospels.  Instead, John uses verse 35 to show how Jesus miraculously and wondrously offers himself to us. In all of life, in relationship with the living Christ – is Eucharist (Holy Communion) from start to finish. He is bread in the wilderness. He is also life-giving bread for us today and for life eternal.

Jesus gave of himself to reveal the depth of his love for us, and so that we would reveal that love through our lives. We have such a gift to share. We can share Jesus’ life-giving sustaining presence with those around us so that his life will continue to penetrate the world, especially those corners of the world which hunger for meaning to life, hunger for spiritual and material nourishment, hunger for experiences of the loving God revealed in Jesus the true bread of life.

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Written and Compiled by

Rev Beth Nicholls

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