August 5, 2012: 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus. And when they found him across the sea they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus answered them and said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.” So they said to him, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.”
So they said to him, “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat. So Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
So they said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” (John 6:24-35)
In this story, Jesus is facing the fact that the early believers are really more interested in the food he provided for the crowd to eat than his message to them. And what is this message? It is a strange one: that He is the bread of life–that when they come to Him, when they begin to believe in Him, they will never be hungry again. We are used to thinking that when we receive communion we receive the body and blood of Christ. But they were hearing it for the first time and, as you would imagine, were confused about what he was saying.
Take some time to think about how you would react to Jesus if you were there that day. What makes you believe that when you receive communion you are really receiving the body and blood of Jesus? This belief is an important part of being Catholic. Spend some time thinking about how it changes your life.