Eventually they got hungry again. Don’t we all? Remember in last week’s Gospel, Jesus had performed the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes. We are in the midst of the readings known as the Bread of Life Discourse. Many of those whom Jesus had fed continued to pursue Him. In doing so they begin to be challenged by who Jesus is and what He is saying. Notice in this week’s Gospel passage that after meeting their basic physical need with food Jesus begins to point the crowd to something greater and longer lasting.
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
“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
After having met their most basic need, Jesus draws the crowd in by whetting their appetite for something eternally fulfilling. Now Jesus has their ear as well. They want to understand what He means but it is obvious they are only beginning to glean the significance of His words. This passage ends with Jesus’ pronouncement that He is the bread of life.
This profound statement is uttered to a crowd of people who are beginning to acknowledge a need for more than just physical feeding.
Here is a quote from Pope Francis in his homily on the Bread of Life Discourse that speaks to what we need:
“As well as physical hunger, man also suffers from another form of hunger that cannot be sated with ordinary food. It is a hunger for life, a hunger for love, a hunger for eternity.” Holy Mass in the square of St. John Lateran, June 20, 2014
Once our physical needs are met we begin to recognize our greater needs. In today’s vernacular we might say the crowd is beginning to “wrap their heads” around Jesus’ words. In fact, the promise of eternal fulfillment is very appealing to many so they are eager to follow and listen. They even go so far as to ask what “work” they can do. This back and forth dialogue continues until...