The goal of Biblical exegesis is to explore the meaning of the text which then leads to discovering its significance or relevance. Applying exegesis should make our reflection on the readings of the Sunday Liturgy more fruitful and helpful.
Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?”
Jn 6: 60-69
v. 60 -- Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?”
It is the disciples who found, as many still find, the contents of this discourse hard! The final phrase should read ‘listen to him?’ rather than ‘listen to it?’
v. 62 – What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?
‘Where he was before': A plain reference not only to the continuing existence of Jesus after his death, but also to his pre-existence (cf. 3:13; 13:3 and 17:5).
v. 65 – And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.”
The verb ‘said’ is in the Greek imperfect: 'he kept on saying all the time'. This underlines the importance of 6:37and 44 as basic Johannine doctrines. Belief in Jesus is impossible without the work of the Father. Unbelief is not some strange human behavior; belief is a miracle of God. 'No one can say "Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit is Paul's recognition of the same truth’ (1 Cor. 12:3).
v. 66 – As a result of this, many [of] his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.
‘As a result of this’: offers both a chronological and a logical basis for interpretation. It was after the discourse, and because of it, that many left Jesus.
v. 68 – Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
'Master': Here, in contrast to its use in 6:34, rightly so rendered. In v. 34 it should read 'Sir'.
v. 69 – We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”
'We have believed, and are convince”: Evidently the reference is to some real 'belief' at 1:39ff, that has now grown in depth and in their continuing association has bred the certitude of faith, a knowledge that has an integrity of its own.
traditional translation would be: “Jesus said to the Jews….” It is as if Jesus
and his disciples were not Jews. It would seem that when John wrote his gospel,
Christians were already aware that they had an identity of their own. They were
not a religious group within the Jewish religion.
I am the living bread that came down
hearers of Jesus would know that the bread that came down from heaven was manna.
It was this bread that kept their ancestors alive during their wandering in the
desert. Jesus asserts that he is the true manna (for he is 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
And just as
the manna of the Old Testament kept the Israelites alive in the desert, so also
this manna which is his flesh will give life to those who eat it. Obviously,
Jesus is talking here about the Eucharist.
flesh refers to his death on the cross. For the life of the world is another
way of saying “saving mankind”. In other words, the death of Jesus is salvific.
Life is a
favourite theme in John’s gospel. In his encounter with the Samaritan woman, he
offers to give her living water. When Jesus went to see Lazarus who had died,
he tells Martha that he is the way, the truth and the life.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my
blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.
The word “eat”
here is literally “chew” or “masticate”. John may want to underline the fact
that the Eucharist is REALLY partaking of the body and blood of Jesus.
tells us that the Eucharist is contains within itself the promise of resurrection
to those who believe.
For my flesh is true food, and my blood
is true drink.
drink sustains life. Since the Eucharist is real food and drink, it follows
that it gives life, eternal life.
Just as the living Father sent me and I
have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life
because of me.
To live is
to enter into communion with the Son and with the Father. The Eucharist is a
special sign of this communion. Hence, the Eucharist when received is called
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”
Last Sunday we switched from the Gospel of
Mark (the Gospel for Year B) to the Gospel of John Chapter 6. We continue today
the reading from John Chapter 6.
The people look for Jesus in Capernaum.
Jesus frankly tells them that they were looking for him NOT because they
understood the meaning of the multiplication of the bread but because they
wanted to see another miracle or they wanted to get free bread again. Jesus
uses the opportunity to teach them. “Do not work for bread that perishes
(naluluma at inaamag). Instead work for food that does not go stale (di
naluluma, di inaamag) and that can give you eternal life. This I, the Son of
Man, can give you.”
They reply, ““What can we do to accomplish
the works of God?” What they mean is: “How can we get our hands on this special
bread you are talking about?”
Jesus answers, “This is the work of God,
that you believe in the one he sent.” Believing in Jesus does not only mean
accepting what Jesus says as true. It means taking the side of Jesus. In the present INC crisis, to believe in Ka Tenny and Ka Angel means to take their side
against the Sanggunian of the INC. And that was what the INC minister in California did.
The people respond: “What sign can you do,
that we may see and believe in you? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert.” If
I were Jesus, I would say, “Hello! And what do you think I did on the other
side of the Lake. Did I not perform a sign? Did I not feed more than 5,000
people with bread and fish?” Instead, Jesus corrects them by saying that it was
not Moses who gave them manna but his Father in heaven. He makes a second
correction. That manna is only a symbol of the bread that his Father is going
to give to them today.
When the people said: “Give us this bread
always”, they wanted Jesus to be their supplier of this special bread that does
not go stale. They were still thinking of earthly, physical bread!
Finally, Jesus makes the final correction to
their mistaken belief by declaring that the bread he was talking about all
along was he himself. “I am the bread of life.” And therefore, to eat the bread of life is
to have faith in Jesus, to take the side of Jesus (isugal ang buhay at
kapalaran sa pagpili kay Jesus).
Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted.
Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee.
It is a lake. The water is sweet. Also
called: Sea of Tiberias, Lake Galilee, and Lake of Genesareth.
A large crowd followed him, because they saw
the signs he was performing on the sick.
Many years ago many people went to Agoo
where it was said that the Blessed Mother appeared to a 16 yr old boy named
Judiel Nieva. Priests even accompanied pilgrims. There was a Saturday that the
number of people who went there were so many that there was a traffic jam along
the highway going back to Manila. Parishes were calling Don Bosco for a priest
to celebrate Mass because their own priests were stuck in that traffic!
Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he
sat down with his disciples.
This reminds us of Moses going up the
mountain. Jesus sat down because rabbis sat down when they teach.
The Jewish feast of Passover was near.
The Passover was a memorial to the Exodus,
the liberation of the Jews from the slavery of Egypt.
There is a boy here who has five barley loaves
and two fish.
Bread made from barley is the bread of the
poor. Wheat is the usually used for bread.
So the men reclined, about five thousand in
This number does not include women and
Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and
distributed them to those who were reclining.
The verbs are important: took, gave thanks
and distributed. They are associated with the Last Supper institution of the
Eucharist. This already gives us a hint that John chapter 6 will speak about
the Eucharist, about Jesus, the Bread of Life.
“Gather the fragments left over, so that
nothing will be wasted.” So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker
baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves.
First, this miracle of the multiplication
of the bread reminds us of the manna in the desert. Manna was the bread
provided by God when the people of Israel was wandering the in the desert for
40 years. It stopped when Israel finally entered the Promised Land.
Second, take note that Jesus doesn’t want
food to be wasted.
When the people saw the sign he had done,
they said, “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.”
The gospel of John does not use the word “miracle”.
He used the word “sign” because the miracles that Jesus performed contained a
message. In fact, Jesus would often talk about the message after performing the
miracle or sign. In this chapter (Chapter 6), Jesus will talk about the
Eucharist and about himself as the Bread of Life. The gospel for the following
Sundays will be portions of John Chapter 6.
The people identify him as THE Prophet not
just A prophet. In the OT Moses said that God would send a prophet like him. By
calling Jesus the Prophet, they understood that Jesus was the one Moses was
Since Jesus knew that they were going to
come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain
Jesus escaped because he didn’t want them
to make him king. Of course, Jesus was a king. In fact, we celebrate Christ the
King. But Jesus was not the kind of king the people had in mind. The people
wanted him to a warrior king who would liberate the Holy Land from the Romans.