John the Evangelist repeats over and over again some expressions and images that have great power to remind us all that we need to come close to Jesus in order to discover there a fountain of new life. This is a vital principle that can’t be compared to anything that we could have known before.
Jesus is «bread that has come down from heaven». We don’t need to confuse this with just any source of life. In Jesus Christ we can be fed by a power, a light, a hope, a vital breath… which all come from God’s own mystery, the One who creates life. Jesus is «the bread of life».
That’s precisely why it’s not possible to meet Jesus in just any old way. We need to go to the deepest depths of our hearts, open ourselves to God, and «listen to what the Father tells us». No one can truly feel drawn to Jesus «unless drawn by the Father who sent Jesus».
What’s most attractive about Jesus is his ability to give life. The one who believes in Jesus Christ and knows how to enter into contact with him, knows a different life, one of a new quality, a life that in some way already belongs to God’s world. John dares to say that «anyone who eats this bread will live forever».
If we don’t feed on this contact with Jesus in our Christian communities, we will keep on being ignorant of what’s most essential, most decisive about Christianity. That’s why there’s nothing more urgent pastorally than to care for our relationship with Jesus the Christ the best we can.
If in the Church we don’t feel ourselves being drawn by that God incarnate in a man who is so human, close and friendly, no one will save us from the state of mediocrity in which we regularly find ourselves submerged. No one will stimulate us to go beyond what our institutions have established. No one will encourage us to plunge ahead of what our traditions have marked out for us.
If Jesus doesn’t feed us with his Spirit of creativity, we will continue to be trapped in the past, living out our religion as just forms, conceptions and sensibilities born out of and unfolding from other epochs and for times other than ours today.
But then Jesus couldn’t count on our cooperation to give birth to and feed the faith of the hearts of men and women today.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf