Today’s Gospel takes place after the miracle of the loaves and the fish, and Jesus tells the people “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 endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you” (Jn 6:26-27). He thereby instructs them to look for the Spiritual Food that will give them Eternal Life. 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” (Jn 6:34-35).
It was really difficult for people to move from the sign (of bread) to the mystery indicated by that sign (the person of Jesus Christ). This is not very different from what we find in the first reading, when the Israelites grumbled in the desert against Moses and Aaron. This passage is also hard for us too.
“At times our grumblings and murmurings about the Eucharist and the Church often rise to fever pitch, not much different than the grumbling and murmuring of Israel in the desert. Excessive tensions arising from Church politics, gender issues, liturgical practices, language – all of these influence today’s Eucharist – and can lead us to a feeling of God’s absence.… We are often stuck in endless arguments between devotion and liturgy, or in a constant dispute between charity and justice: when devotion is treated as the enemy of liturgy and charity as the betrayer of justice, or when liturgy is reduced to private devotion and justice not recognised as constitutive to the Gospel.” (Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB)
Source and Summit:
The Second Vatican council was very clear when it stated that the Eucharist is the Source and Summit of the Church (LG 11). If it is truly the Source and Summit of the Church, there is no limit to our love of Eucharist. The more we love the Eucharist, the more we will love the poor, justice, mercy, devotion, piety and everything else that goes with being part of the Body of Christ. The Church must never put a barrier between Communion and Sacrifice, between Mercy and Justice, between Devotion and Liturgy. Grumbling divides the Church. Instead of saying “both … and …” we say “only my way, only my vision of the liturgy, only my vision of the Church”.
Grumbling only leads to division, loss of trust and Faith. Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life, let us come to Him, let us trust in Him, let us find our Unity in Him. He is the Source and Summit of the Church and He gives Himself to us in the Mass, He gives Himself to us in the Eucharist, in the Word, in our Brothers. Let not these things divide us
Fr Michael Thérèse.