THE DAY AFTER THE FEEDING OF THE MULTITUDE, a considerable number of those who had witnessed the miracle were still on the eastern shore of the lake. Surmising that He had returned to Capernaum, they crossed the lake and sought Him out in the synagogue, but He said to them:
“Amen, amen, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you have seen signs, but because you have eaten of the loaves and have been filled. Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for that which endures unto life everlasting, which the Son of Man will give you. For upon Him the Father, God Himself, has set His seal.”
Then they asked what they were to do in order to perform the works of God. Jesus said:
‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”
But they pressed Him for some irresistible sign to overcome their unbelief, saying, “What sign, then, dost Thou, that we may see and believe Thee? What work dost Thou perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the desert, even as it is written, ‘Bread from heaven He gave them to eat.’ ” And He replied that He brought them a nobler food than manna:
“Amen, amen, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but 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.”
“Lord,” they said, “give us always this bread.” But Jesus continued:
“I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. But I have told you that you have seen Me and you do not believe. All that the Father gives to Me shall come to Me, and him who comes to Me I will not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. Now this is the will of Him who sent Me, the Father, that I should lose nothing of what He has given Me, but that I should raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father who sent Me, that whoever beholds the Son, and believes in Him, shall have everlasting life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
This was too much for them; they began murmuring among themselves that they knew this Jesus as a mortal, and His mother and father as well. But Jesus interrupted their muttered complaints:
“Do not murmur among yourselves. No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draw him, and I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they all shall be taught of God.’ Everyone who has listened to the Father, and has learned, comes to Me; not that anyone has seen the Father except Him who is from God. He has seen the Father. Amen, amen, I say to you, he who believes in Me has life everlasting.
“I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the desert, and have died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that if anyone eat of it he will not die. I am the living bread that has come down from heaven. If anyone eat of this bread he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give is My flesh for the life of the world.”
Again, the Jews complained, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?” But Jesus said to them:
“Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has life ever lasting and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh, and drinks My blood, abides in Me and I in him. As the living Father has sent Me, and as I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also shall live because of Me. This is the bread that has come down from heaven; not as your Fathers ate the manna, and died. He who eats this bread shall live forever.”
Even some of Jesus’ disciples could not understand this discourse on the Eucharist. After they had left the synagogue, they came to Him and said, “This is a hard saying. Who can listen to it?” But Jesus knew what was troubling them, and said in reply:
“Does this scandalize you? What then if you should see the Son of Man ascending where He was before? It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some among you who do not believe.”
He had always known that some of those who followed Him were not truly believers; and He knew, too, which of His followers would betray Him. In conclusion, He said:
“This is why I have said to you, ‘No one can come to Me unless he is enabled to do so by My Father.’ “
At this time many began to fall away from Christ’s followers and returned to their original way of life. And He questioned those who were closest to Him, the Twelve, as to their loyalty.
“Do you also wish to go away?”
Answering for the others, Peter said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast words of everlasting life, and we have come to believe and to know that Thou art the Christ, the Son of God.”
But Jesus knew that even one of His elite guard was disloyal. And He said:
“Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil.”
Meditation: To make one of His most significant revelations, Jesus chose a public setting, the synagogue of Capernaum, when it was crowded with worshipers, many of whom had witnessed the multiplication of loaves the previous day. In those circumstances He promised to give His own flesh and blood as food and drink. At this announcement some of His followers left Him. Some still refuse to accept such almost unbelievable goodness. But we can only thank Him for the priceless gift of His body and blood in Holy Communion.
Information from The Life of Christ “Our Lord’s Life with Lesson in His Own Words for Our Life Today” The Catholic Press, Inc. 1959. 93-96. © 1954 edited by Reverend John P. O’Connell, MASTD and Jex Martin, following mainly A Chronological Harmony of the Gospels by Stephen J Hartdegen OFM NIHIL OBSTAT John A McMahon; IMPRIMATUR Samuel Cardinal Stritch, Archbishop of Chicago August 1, 1953. Print. Drawing by Albert H Winkler.