Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Monday Reflection - Michael Bailey

This reflection was given by final-year student, Michael Bailey, on Monday evening at Evening Prayer:

‘I am the bread that has come down from heaven.’ This is a massive statement we hear read to us tonight. Jesus is revealing himself to his followers through the use of everyday things, specifically bread. There is murmuring among the crowd and they are not happy with this statement. The crowd we can read as the ‘Jews.’ This entire chapter of John’s Gospel is heavily laden with bread imagery. However, it is not mere bread that Jesus is referring to. He did not mean I am the Hovis, or, Warburton’s that came down from heaven. He is ‘the Bread of Life,’ ‘the Living Bread that has come down from heaven’ He is the one who sustains us, in this life, and only through Him, can we come to the next, that is, to be found with our loving Father in heaven.

This is hard to contemplate... to know.....or, to act upon.... At the time his hearers said that he was an earthly man and this ‘came from heaven’ talk was nonsense, he was ‘Jesus the son of Joseph, whose father and mother they knew.’ But did they? They think they knew and the fact that the Son of God was before their eyes, they did not know. To them he was an earthly man not heavenly. Therefore, the bread talk was earthly not heavenly. This was not the point that Jesus was making. This passage blows apart all that had gone before. It shatters what his followers had believed. Through Moses and their liberation from captivity they were fed with manna in the dessert. This did not stop them from dying and having eternal life. Jesus reveals himself directly, dramatically and says ‘No one can come to me to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day.’ This restores what had been lost and we see a New Moses where we are being fed with ‘Bread from heaven’ which not only grants eternal life but the promise of being raised up by Jesus himself on the last day.

This is not the first time that Jesus has promised a gift in the Gospel – but what a gift! He is the Gift who is here in our midst tonight! (here, in the tabernacle, on the altar). Here, in his Blessed Sacrament, is Jesus, the Bread from heaven, who first came to Bethlehem, the House of Bread, and who now comes daily to the altar, to feed us with his love and sustain us for our pilgrimage through life.