It’s a profound truth that bread only becomes true bread when it is consumed. In a sense, the visible bread ceases in the very act of fulfilling its purpose of satisfying hunger. Bread cannot fulfill its purpose by sitting on a grocery shelf or on the kitchen counter fresh out of the oven. We don’t simply stare at freshly baked bread or only take in its aroma. It is meant to be eaten, and in that act, bread truly becomes bread.
In today’s Gospel from John, Jesus says “”I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” Biblical references to Jesus as the Bread of Life are clearly eucharistic: “Then Jesus took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.’ And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you.’”
“Do this in memory of me.…” Do what? Is he only talking about the breaking of bread? No. It is intended to be so much more than a reenactment of the Last Supper. Jesus, like bread, becomes our savior in his death and resurrection. His life is fulfilled as he hands himself over to the Father.
Jesus calls us to do likewise. It is when we share our lives in service to others that we become truly who we are…sons and daughters of God. The mystery of faith is we must give ourselves away to find our true selves. In a sense, we become who God created us to be when we die to ourselves and nourish others. We are the Bread of Life in today’s world. When we say AMEN when receiving the Eucharist, we are saying “Yes, let it be so.” Let us be a source of life for others by sharing our lives as Jesus does.
Robert Hotz is a consultant with American City Bureau, Inc. and was the Director of The Passion of Christ: The Love That Compels Campaign for Holy Cross Province.