The Sacred Scriptures and the Christian liturgy are filled with symbols, concrete images that point to unseen realities. In today’s Gospel Jesus is challenged by his listeners to produce a sign from heaven that he is the Messiah. If he had miraculously provided a meal for his followers from five loaves and two fish yesterday, what more can he provide for them today? Jesus replies that he is the Bread of Life: “whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” If bread sustains our physical lives, Jesus as the bread from heaven will sustain our spiritual lives. We may not get all that we want by way of spiritual nourishment, but we will always get from God through Jesus all that we need, and still have something to share with others in imitation of the self-giving love of Jesus.
—Fr. Joseph Bracken, S.J. is an emeritus professor of theology at Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH