This Sunday, we continue reading from the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John, in which Jesus, having accomplished the great miracle of the multiplication of the bread, explains to people the meaning of the “sign” (Jn 6.41 to 51).
As he had done earlier with the Samaritan woman, starting from the experience of thirst and the sign of water, here Jesus goes from the experience of hunger and the sign of bread, to reveal Himself and to offer an invitation to believe in Him.
The people seek Him and listen to Him, because they remained enthused by the miracle; they wanted to make him king! However, when Jesus affirms that the true bread, given by God, is Himself, many are shocked, and begin murmuring among themselves, “Do we not know his father and mother? Then how can he say, ‘I have come down from heaven’? “(Jn 6, 42). And they begin to murmur … Then Jesus says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him,” and adds: “whoever believes has eternal life.”(vv. 44.47).
This word of the Lord amazes us, and makes us think, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him,” and “whoever believes has eternal life”…. It makes one reflect. It introduces the dynamic of faith, which is a relationship: the relationship between the human person and the person of Jesus, where the Father plays a decisive role, and, of course, also the Holy Spirit. That is implied here. It is not enough to meet Jesus to believe in Him, not just in reading the Bible, the Gospel; not even enough in witnessing a miracle … So many people were in close contact with Jesus and did not believe. Indeed, they also despised and condemned Him. And I ask myself: Why? Were they not attracted by the Father? No, but because their hearts were closed to the action of the Spirit of God. If you keep your heart closed, the faith doesn’t enter! We open or close our hearts. But instead the faith, which is like a seed deep in the heart, blossoms when we allow ourselves to be “drawn” from the Father to Jesus, and “go to Him” with an open mind, without prejudices; then we recognize in His face the face of God, and in his words, the Word of God, because the Holy Spirit has made us enter into the relationship of love and of life between Jesus and God, the Father. So we receive the gift of the faith.
Therefore, with this attitude of faith, we can understand the meaning of “Bread of life” that Jesus gives us, and that He describes in this way: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” (Jn 6:51). In Jesus, in His “flesh” – that is, in His concrete humanity – God’s love, which is the Holy Spirit, is everything. Those who let themselves be attracted by this love go to Jesus in faith, and receive from Him life, eternal life.
Someone who lived this experience in such an exemplary way was the Virgin of Nazareth, Mary: the first human person who believed in God by accepting the flesh of Jesus. Let us learn from her, our Mother, joy and gratitude for the gift of faith. A gift that is not “private” but shared: it is “for the life of the world”!
After the Angelus
Dear brothers and sisters,
Seventy years ago, on August 6th and 9th of 1945, the terrible atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki took place. Even after much time has passed, this tragic event still arouses horror and repulsion. It has become the symbol of the enormous destructive power of man when he makes a distorted use of advances in science and technology, and is a permanent warning to humanity to divorce itself forever from war and ban nuclear weapons and all weapons of mass destruction. This sad anniversary calls us above all to pray and work towards peace, to spread the ethic of brotherhood and a climate of peaceful coexistence among peoples worldwide. From every land, one voice should rise: no to war and to violence and yes to dialogue and peace! With war, one always loses. The only way to win a war is never to wage it!
I am following with deep concern the news from El Salvador, where recently the hardships of the population have gotten worse because of famine, economic crisis, acute social conflicts and growing violence. I encourage the dear people of El Salvador to persevere together in hope, and I urge everyone to pray that justice and peace flourish again in the land of Blessed Oscar Romero.
I greet all of you, Romans and pilgrims; in particular to the young of Mason Vicentino, Villaraspa, Nova Milanese, Fossò, Sandon, Ferrara, and the altar servers of Calcarelli.
I greet the motorcyclists of San Zeno (Brescia), committed to young recovering children hospitalized in Rome’s Bambino Gesu Hospital.
I wish you all a good Sunday. And please, do not forget to pray for me!
Good lunch and goodbye!