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Gospel for Sunday, August 1: John 6: 24-35

XVIII Sunday B

24So when the crowd saw that Jesus was no longer there and neither were his disciples, they got into boats and headed for Capernaum in search of Jesus. 25Having found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him: “Rabbi, when did you come here?”. 26Jesus replied: “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate the loaves and were satisfied. 27Do not obtain for yourselves the food that perishes, but that which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. Because the Father, God, has set his seal on him.” 28They then said to him: “What must we do to do the works of God?”. 29Jesus replied: “This is the work of God: to believe in him whom he has sent.” 30Then they said to him: “What sign then do you give so that we can see and believe you? What work do you do? 31Our fathers ate manna in the desert, as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.” 32Jesus answered them: “Truly, truly, I say to you, Moses did not give you bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven; 33the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34Then they said to him: “Lord, always give us this bread”. 35Jesus replied: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will no longer be hungry and whoever believes in me will no longer be thirsty”.

John 6: 24-35

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather (

Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.

The “bread from heaven” speech

After the episode of Jesus walking on the water (Jn 6.16-21), Jesus’ famous speech begins in the synagogue of Capernaum (Jn 6.22-66). This passage suggests precise references to the Exodus: the murmuring against Moses in the desert (Ex 16.2-3; 17.2; Nm 14.1-2…), the blood of the lamb (Ex 12.1-14 ), the manna (Ex 16,4-36); furthermore the text must be understood in the light of the Jewish belief in the messianic return of the manna, and of the identification of the manna, in the Books of Wisdom and in the rabbinic commentaries, with the Torah, the Word of God, “Dabar-Lògos”.

Jesus is the true Bread offered to the Father (Nm 15,17-21; Jn 6,25; 8,28; 12,32), he is the definitive offering that reconciles us with God (1 Jn 2,2).

Jesus is the Bread that does not perish, because he is confirmed by God with “the seal” (Jn 6.27) of the Spirit: in this world that seeks a thousand loaves, it is reiterated that there is “only one loaf” (Mk 8.14 ), “the bread from heaven, the true one…, he who descends from heaven and gives life to the world” (Jn 6:32-33).

Jesus, the Bread, is the great Sign (Jn 6.30) given by the Father: to the Jews who, like us, polemically ask for miracles to believe (“What sign then do you give so that we can see and believe you? What work do you do?”: Jn 6.30; cf. 1 Cor 1.21-24), the miracle of a God who gives himself totally, who lets himself be broken, who lets himself be eaten, who makes himself “bread of life, so as not to be hungry anymore and never be thirsty again” forever (Jn 6.35)!

The Eucharist is a prophetic “mime”.

Getting eaten by men

When Jesus institutes the Eucharist, he first of all performs a prophetic mime. What he does at the last supper is “the last parable of Jesus” (J. Jeremias). Offering the bread, he says: “This is my body given for you”; offering the cup: “This is my blood, shed for you” (Lk 22,19-20): the first meaning of this action is that he gave himself totally to men, that his life was a full oblation for the life of his brothers, which was entirely consumed for them, and which he became, offering himself for them like bread and wine, their support and their survival. “By distributing the bread, Jesus shows with the words that he “gives himself for”. By circulating the chalice, he declares that “he sheds his blood”. The two gestures of Jesus receive a symbolic value: the gift of his own person for the benefit of his disciples, which goes as far as the shedding of blood” (X. Léon-Dufour). “In front of his disciples, Jesus mimes his death, representing it before them; it is the attitude of a prophet and a martyr that brings the mission to its completion, giving his own death a meaning of love and service” (A. Marchadour).

The command to imitate Jesus

Two commands accompany the prophetic action: the first is: “Take, eat…; drink” (Mk 14,22; Mt 26,26.28): the disciples are not only passive objects of this self-giving of Christ, but are invited to take an active part in it, to participate in his love, to accept his life as a gift, to consciously and responsibly fill yourself with him. From this comes the second command: “Do this in memory of me” (Lk 22.19; 1 Cor 11.24): Jesus orders that his disciples also make themselves bread and drink for others, that they become food for all, let them be “eaten” by their brothers.

The importance of Eucharistic mime

In the biblical reading of mime the first meaning is therefore the invitation to give oneself completely to others, following the example of the Master. The other meanings (the real presence of Christ, the sacrifice of the New Covenant, an eschatological sign…) are certainly there, but they are secondary to this and from this they draw light and understanding.

“”Do this in memory of me”. These words are repeated in every Eucharistic celebration… It is thought that they concern only the formula of consecration. But Jesus never asked us to repeat these words. Instead, he asked us to do what he himself was doing at that moment. And that is to prepare to give one’s life for the salvation of the world… If our Eucharistic celebrations in the past have not been entirely effective in transforming people’s lives, in making the faithful more committed to the work of Christ, perhaps it is because people he always thought he should receive rather than give. The hands we offer, however, are not only to receive the body of Christ, but also to give it to others” (P. Bernier).

The Eucharist then becomes a life program for believers, their logic in being present in the company of men, the matrix of their industriousness in worldly realities.

We must truly have the courage to take the Eucharist seriously, and not celebrate it when our political choices have not privileged the poor with whom Christ identifies, our social choices have not wanted our parishes or our neighborhoods to become hospitality for foreigners, migrants, the homeless, if we have not at least tried to make our lives a gift at the service of our brothers.

Happy Mercy to all!

Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at


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