The Bread of Life (John 6)
The Eucharist is the foundation of our whole Christian life because it is the gift of Jesus’ heart, his wounded heart thirsting for our love. Jesus can only give himself to us if we thirst for his love and if we are eager to receive everything from him. (…)
In Chapter 6 of the Gospel of Saint John, Jesus reveals to us that he is the true bread, from the Father, the bread that the Father gives us as a testament of love. By giving us bread, the Father also gives us wine, the blood of Christ, which is a gift of superabundance. He does not give wine separated from bread; He gives it with bread. These two gifts are inseparable. Jesus united them at the Last Supper. In the prefiguration (Cana and the multiplication of the loaves), he did not unite them, so that we might better understand the double symbolism.
We thereby understand that both the mercy of Jesus is absolutely necessary for going forward in life, and that his ultimate mercy at the Cross — the gift of blood coming from the wound in his heart — is the superabundance. Love has to give itself in gratuitousness and superabundance. That is why there is the gift of blood: so that we may be able to receive this mystery of love in gratuitousness and superabundance. The superabundance of wine and the necessity of bread, each in turn, put a particular characteristic of the necessity of love into light. Love is what is most necessary in our life and at the same time what is most superabundant. In the order of love, superabundance is what is most necessary in the end. And divine love is gratuitously this necessity and this superabundance. (…)
When Jesus does something, he does it admirably, and all the details are important because this meal prefigures the Eucharist. When you go to Holy Communion, you bring nothing with you, just your good will. Of course there is the collection, yes, but that is something different, it is not in the Gospel. Jesus did not ask the Apostles to take up a collection; Jesus did what he did gratuitously. And it should always be like that. (…) The first time you went to Mass, someone told you what the collection was, but they did not say: “Pay close attention to that”. The first time we went to Mass, our mother or father, or a good priest told us that it was a very great mystery…And Jesus wanted it to be absolutely gratuitous. None of us deserves to attend Mass. It is the simplest gesture there is. That’s why Jesus uses very simple things. If he had used very rare, costly foods, we would have put the importance on the matter being offered or given. But no: Jesus wants to hide himself and offer himself in a hidden way, in the simplest way there is, so that we will understand what gratuitousness is, and absolute gratuitousness.
The multiplication of the loaves is a preparation for the Eucharist. Far-off, certainly, but still a prefiguration. It is gratuitousness and children cooperate with this gratuitousness joyfully. How great this is.
Father Marie-Dominique Philippe, o.p.
Conferences 1996-1997 given to the AFC (Association of Christian Families)
“Jesus-Christ, educator of faith through signs”