May 2, 2017
by Joan Kowalski
Creighton University's Division of Student Life
click here for photo and information about the writer

Memorial of Saint Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Lectionary: 274

Acts 7:51—8:1a
Psalms 31:3cd-4, 6 and 7b and 8a, 17 and 21ab
John 6:30-35

Daily Easter Prayer

Celebrating Easter Home

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

The Servant Girl At Emmaus

Don't Work for Food that Perishes

The crowd said to Jesus:
"What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you?
What can you do?
Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written:

He gave them bread from heaven to eat."

So Jesus said to them,
"Amen, amen, I say to you,
it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven;
my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.
For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven
and gives life to the world."

So they said to Jesus,
"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.”

I focus on our Gospel reading today from John 6:30-35. Jesus said to them I AM the Bread of LIFE; whoever comes to Jesus will never be hungry and whoever believes in Jesus will never thirst. The great I AM statement in this verse spoken by Jesus is a tremendously strong metaphor which expresses Jesus’ saving relationship toward the world. I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE is Jesus telling us that He is essential for life, not of the physical realm, but for the spiritual realm. The physical bread of this earth which we eat can grow mold and eventually be rotten and no one is able to eat from the loaf. However, Jesus is the spiritual bread that brings eternal life.

These past several weeks have been exceptionally trying in my life. There have been many days of sadness and consternation. I recently lost a member of my family who was killed in a tragic work-related accident. I grew up with this person, building forts out of snow and having snowball fights that I  can vividly remember to this day. He was my cousin, and he taught me everything a person should know about repairing a flat bicycle tire, he taught me all of the elements on the Periodic Table, and he was a survivor in a family with anger that caused physical and emotional pain. I remember a conversation we had about 20 years ago when he visited our home and remodeled our bathroom. We talked specifically about God. He questioned a God who would allow such horrible things to happen in the lives of people. As the victim of an abusive father, he had many scars he carried throughout his life. I attempted to witness to him, and to explain how during those times it is most important to reach out to God, and to know that God is with him and holding him in his Hands. I shared my love of Jesus as my Savior. We continued to have these conversations throughout his visit. My cousin still could not grasp onto this concept and proclaimed his non-belief based on many circumstances that had scarred him for years.

Today, I am preparing to go to his hometown with his sister and begin the journey of finalizing all that must be done when someone we love has left this earthly home. I am both saddened and angry with this loss. I am sad because I will no longer be able to see him or share in a conversation. I am angry because I could not help him to understand the importance of faith. It didn’t stop us from having these conversations, and he was quite adamant about his beliefs, as was I. We argued, but we never stopped loving one another.

Believing in Jesus means placing our faith in Him that He is who he says He is, that He will do what He says he will do, and that He is the only one who can. Despite my attempts with my cousin to share this faith, it was not my responsibility to make him believe. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” When Jesus guides us to come to Him and we will never hunger, and to those who believe in Him will never thirst, He is telling us that HE will satisfy our hunger and thirst to be made righteous in the sight of God.

So with my anger and consternation, I place these in Jesus’ nail-scarred hands. I do not know what eternity holds for my cousin, and it is not mine to own. What I do know for a fact is that when Christ died on the cross, he took the sins of all of us upon Himself and made atonement for them. Jesus satisfies our hunger and thirst for righteousness. HE is our Bread of Life.

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