What kind of bread do you want?
I’m sure you, like me, conjure up lots of wonderfully mouth-watering images when you think of bread! Bread is one of the staple foods in our western culture and diet and really, what can be nicer than fresh, warm, wholesome bread – it smells good and tastes great and good bread is always immensely satisfying! And what a choice we have – so many kinds of bread. We know too that some kinds of bread are more satisfying, more nourishing than others. Some bread looks appealing and satisfies for a while. Other loaves are more dense and nutritious and they feed us in a more substantial way.
Bread features significantly in Scripture and some of those key ‘bread moments’ in our Judaeo-Christian story are: the unleavened bread of the Passover, first eaten by the Israelites as they prepared to leave Egypt; then there is the bread in the desert – God ‘rained down bread from heaven’ to nourish the Israelites in their forty–year wilderness wandering; there is the multiplying of the five loaves of bread to feed the 5000 hungry people who followed Jesus to hear him teaching; and of course, the breaking of bread by Jesus at the Last Supper, and there are several references to that in the Christian Scriptures. But there is a passage in John’s Gospel that invites us into an important reflection on bread, a real considering of the kind of bread we want, and just how we might get that bread.
This passage follows that well-known story of the feeding of the five thousand. After that event, a crowd of people, riding on the wave of euphoria because of what had just happened, what they had just been given so unexpectedly, set out to seek Jesus who had gone away quietly with his disciples. They wanted more. They got into boats and crossed the Sea of Galilee and found him in Capernaum. And then Jesus said to them:
“I tell you most solemnly, you are not looking for me because you have seen the signs but because you had all the bread you wanted to eat. Do not work for food that cannot last, but work for food that endures to eternal life, the kind of food the Son of Man is offering 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 do the works that God wants?” Jesus answered, “It is my Father who gives you the bread from heaven, the true bread; for the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world”. “Sir”, they said, “give us that bread always”. Jesus answered, “I am the bread of life. Those who come to me will never be hungry; those who believe in me will never thirst” (John 6: 24 – 35).
Ms Kerry McCullough
Spirituality and Liturgy Coordinator