18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Remember from last week this episode happens during the Jewish Passover when Jesus and all the Jews recall and celebrate Moses leading them from slavery in Egypt , feeding them with bread or manna in the dessert and receiving the law of God which taught the chosen people what God wanted.
The feeding of the 5,000 has made the people think of what Moses prophesied that God would raise a prophet from the people and put his word into his mouth. That’s why they said about Jesus at the end of the Gospel last Sunday “this really is the prophet who is to come into the world”.
Now Jesus teaches - the feeding of the 5,000 is a sign it isn’t the real thing. The real thing is the bread that doesn’t just feed you today but leads you to eternal life. This is the food that you are being offered. This is what you should work for.
This makes the crowd think of the law of God, which Moses gave the people, the Ten Commandments and other laws which taught the Israelites what works God wanted them to do. But their experience was that they often failed to keep that law. So they ask Jesus what must we do if we are to do the works of God? Jesus’ response “This is working for God - you must believe in the one he has sent” is a huge claim Jesus is saying I am the law. The law is no longer in writing, in books, the law is a person, it is me and to keep the law, to be faithful is to believe in me. This is such a remarkable claim that the people ask Jesus for a sign - a proof - like Moses giving them bread or manna in the dessert, a proof they should believe in him.
Jesus replies the true bread comes not from Moses but from my Father in heaven, it is the bread of God, the bread that gives the world true life. Give us that bread say the people who in so many ways are hungry and needy and unsatisfied. Then comes the high point of Jesus’ teaching.”I am the bread of life”.
It is Jesus who feeds properly, who satisfies who gives life just as it is Jesus who does the work of God, who is the law, the new law, the new covenant.
This is the heart of the teaching on the Blessed Eucharist,- the law, what we believe, the way we are saved everything is found in a person and that person is Jesus.