Today, allow me to explain the opening passage of the Gospel: “I am the bread of life,” Jesus said. Bread is a staple part of the diet of the Jews; as rice is to us. Bread dominates the Jews’ dining tables, but it is slowly taking over the Filipino breakfast menu. A staple food is one that is eaten regularly and in such quantities as to constitute the main part of the diet, and supplies majority of the energy and nutrient we need. Statistics have it that three specific species of grass, supply about half of our intake: wheat, rice and corn. They can all be baked into bread. These specific ‘grasses’ generally give us life. Thus, the image of the bread comes from something that is ordinary to us: that which we encounter regularly but also the most needed daily.
In the same manner, when we say Jesus is the bread of life, it means that Jesus sustains us daily, nourishing our souls and giving us strength. How? We come to church to be nourished. When we are lonely, we know that our family and friends cannot fully satisfy our infinite need to be with someone. But Christ can be present to us wherever we are. When we are anxious and afraid, we know that no one can assure us — except God. That is why we need to hold on to something we associate with God like a cross or a rosary. It is not the ‘object’ itself but that object reminds us of God who gives protection. When we fail in our exams, we run to the church and ask God to give us hope. A faith that has depth will even realize that all that we are, have or use, comes from God.
The fact that rice is a staple food does not depend on our acceptance — we just eat it. The same way with Christ. Christ showers us with every good thing. This fact does not depend on us. In another Gospel, it says, “God sends rain both for the young and the old.” It does not depend on whether we have been good or bad, or whether we accept Christ or not. Thus, the statement that Jesus is the bread of life does not depend on any student who doesn’t believe: Jesus is not impaired from service.