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19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
John 6:41-51
          I am the bread of life for the life of the world, said the Lord.
         We ask: Why was it difficult for many, including disciples, to accept the invitation to come and eat him? Because Jesus, an ordinary lowly son of a carpenter, was presumptuous and obtuse in saying he was from heaven and offering himself to be eaten like a sacrificial temple offering. They could believe that God entered an animal offered in the temple; that God was in the part burned in adoration of him, and in the choice cuts taken by the priest/s and the offerer/s to bring home as take-out (pabaon) for family and friends. They believed they ate God in their share of the animal. Eat God in the flesh of sheep and bullocks, yes. But eat a bread-for-the-world-carpenter? - No way!
          So, what is this life-giving bread that all who believe in him are invited to eat?

         The bread of life is the word of God discovered in the light of faith in historical personal and social situations and events we find ourselves in. What is the word of God addressed to us when we see fellow human beings hungry, naked, shelterless, crippled, in prison. The victims of oppression and exploitation. What is the word of God addressed to us when we see fellow human beings well-off in body, mind, and spirit enjoying the good life, Aristotelian eudaimonia? What is the word of God contained in the events such as the Philippine revolution of 1899, the socialist revolutions of Russia, China, Cuba, Vietnam, Nicaragua, the explosions of People’s Power in several countries catalyzed by Edsa-1 in contemporary times? In the birth of babies. In the unborn nesting in the care of their mothers’ wombs. Reflect on these, be still, and the word, his word, he as word shall be to hand to eat.

          The bread of life is the word of God in Sacred Scriptures of the old and the new testaments. Take and read, is the advice of angels to each of us. It is the word reaching out to the heights of heaven to access the divine, plumbing the deeps of the heart to enliven it, stretching the length of goodness in human history, and embracing all in its wide loving embrace. Eat this: Be holy, because I, your God, am holy. Eat this: Love one another as I have loved you. Eat this: Consider the lilies of the field and the birds of the air. Eat this: He shall separate the goats from the sheep. Eat this: The righteous shall shine like the dawn. Eat this: Repent, and believe the Gospel. Eat this: The Kingdom is among you. Eat this: Behold, I make all things new. Eat the Sermon on the Mount and the parables. Eat to live in his word, to live in him.
          The bread of life is Eucharistic bread consecrated at the last supper of Lord, and since then liturgically replicated up the centuries to this day in Eucharistic ecclesial denominations of the Church. It is offered to all believers but eaten in different ways – symbolically, by Christians who do not believe in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the sacrament of the altar; really, by Christians who believe in the real presence of the Lord, true God and true man, flesh and blood and all, under species of consecrated bread and wine. There is everlasting life of grace here and now in those who partake of the living bread.Take and eat: This is my Body. Take and drink: Thus is my blood of the new covenant.
          Now, the big import: Partaking of the bread of life means we are to be what we eat. To be Jesus of ministry, passion and death, of resurrection and glorification. And, in mission to the world, to replicate the deed of Jesus – to be bread for others, for abundant life, copious redemption in him. To be consecrated as sacrifice, entailing breaking of body and shedding of blood, sweat, and tears in communal struggle for justice, peace, and prosperity of his making. To come down from heaven of grace to the earth of contemporary economic, political, cultural, and spiritual life; to mountains and valleys, town and country, joys and griefs of daily life of personal renewal and social transformation of family, community, and nation. To be presence of Jesus in food and drink at family and fellowship tables. By faith and baptism have Christians been“Christified” to do all this in memory of him.
          Partaking of the bread of life is to be love, sociological love, shared with one another of common faith, and with non-believers too, our love and his grace guiding them to consider open possibilities of faith in Jesus Christ. We are invited, nay, commanded, to be eaten by all of good will. To let Jesus be eaten through us his living bread, this time, here, now. That in all things God may be glorified.


September 2013

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