Today's Gospel is the continuous discourse between Jesus and his opponents about the claim Jesus made that he is the bread for the life of the world. We heard about the crowds but not sure who they were but this week's reading reveals them as the Jews. The Jews were the chief opponents of Jesus both in vocal language and in setting traps in the hope to catch him off guard.
Last week the reading was focussed upon Jesus who was the gift of life that God, the Father gave to the world. This week the focus is upon the person of Jesus who is the centre of the faith and through God the Father we come to know that Jesus came from God. The two themes are interconnected, but they are not identical. After hearing the claim Jesus made the Jews refused to believe in Jesus.
I am the bread that came down from heaven' the crowd who followed Jesus began to grumbled and complained (v.42).
Their rejection caused by their prior knowledge of Jesus. They used his upbringing and family background to make claim that Jesus was one of them. The claim that Jesus came down from heaven was incorrect since they knew his father and mother and his relatives. Their complaining was based on the human knowledge while Jesus was talking about the knowledge of God given to them by the Father. For them once a person was born on this earth s/he could not be elsewhere but would belong to this earth. Jesus made clear to them that the faith he offered was not found in his background but rather it was a special gift from God. It was not knowledge of the earth that stood in their way of seeing the truth but rather it is the hardening of their hearts that stopped them from being open for other possibilities. They asked for more signs implying that the miracles of healing and the feeding Jesus made were insufficient to convince them. Their problem was comparing between manna their ancestors ate in the desert and the bread of life Jesus was talking about. Comparing often leads one to choose one and to reject the other. For the Jews to choose Jesus would mean to reject their Jewish traditions and it wouldn't be an easy thing to do. To help them to see how wrong they were Jesus said
'No one can come to me unless he is drawn by the Father who sent me and I will raise him up at the last day v.44
To reject the teaching of Jesus implied to reject the teaching of the Father through him. Accepting the teaching of Jesus is the key to having faith in God. And those who believe in Jesus will benefit from it. The double results will accompany that person. First they will have the bread of life while on earth and second when their earthly journey is ended they will not die alone and forever but Jesus will give them eternal life and accompany them on the way to enter God's kingdom.
I will raise them up at the last day. v.44
The bread Jesus gives for the life of the world is his own flesh. Today we understand that the bread of life from Heaven costs more than we can imagine. It costs the life of Jesus and it is continuously repeated again and again at the Eucharistic celebration.