I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.
Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me.
This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”
When was the last moment you grew in wisdom about some aspect of yourself or the world? What changed in your life that allowed you to grow in wisdom?
Teachers can dispense knowledge, but even the best educators cannot force someone to grow in wisdom. Today’s first reading at Mass (Proverbs 9:1-6) personifies Wisdom as a host who has decked her house, set the table, prepared the meats and readied the wines for all to partake. Then Wisdom invites any and all to partake of her generous bounty.
In today’s Gospel Jesus continues his extended “Bread of Life” discourse at another important meal. He explains to all who would listen that he isthe living bread, come down from heaven. All who come to eat his body and drink his blood will have eternal life. Like Wisdom, Christ invites without imposition, and calls without coercion. Yet the Gospel stories are littered with characters who look but do not see; who listen but do not hear.
Are we disposed to grow in wisdom, or have we decided we’ve seen enough?
Paul offers solid advice for us: “Watch carefully how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise, making the most of the opportunity” (“Kairos” in Greek) to grow in our relationship to God (Ephesians 5:15).
Where might Christ, that gentle teacher, be inviting you today? Are you ready to accept his invitation?
—Fr. Joe Simmons, SJ, is a priest of the Midwest Province and a proud alumnus of Marquette University High School and Marquette University. He begins doctoral studies in theology and literature at the University of Oxford in October.
Lord Jesus, as we encounter you as the living bread from heaven, may we be humble enough to respond to your call to live as your disciple, even if it is not the way we would expect. Grant us the wisdom to see and hear your invitation in our lives that we may grow ever closer to you. Amen.
—The Jesuit Prayer team
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