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Gospel for Sunday, August 8: John 6: 41-51

XIX Sunday B

41Meanwhile the Jews murmured against him because he had said: “I am the bread that came down from heaven”. 42And they said: “Isn’t this Jesus, the son of Joseph? We know his father and mother. How then can he say: I have come down from heaven?”. 43Jesus replied: “Do not murmur among yourselves. 44No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. 45It is written in the prophets: And all will be taught by God. Whoever has heard the Father and has learned from him comes to me. 46Not that anyone has seen the Father, but only he who is from God has seen the Father. 47Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. 48I am the bread of life. 49Your fathers ate manna in the wilderness and died; 50This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that whoever eats it will not die. 51I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats this bread he will live forever and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world”.

John 6: 41-51

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.

Murmuring (“They murmured about him because he had said: “I am the bread that came down from heaven””: Jn 6:41; cf. Jn 6:43.52) is a recurring sin in the Exodus: it expresses disbelief, distrust, skepticism, criticism of God’s plan of salvation, of his voice and that of his prophets. It is our eternal fear of entrusting ourselves to him, of abandoning ourselves to his Providence. It is our sin: wanting to teach God what is good for us, continually complaining if things do not go according to our expectations, our plans, our projects, our mentality.

Just as in the desert God heard the repeated murmurings of the Jews who were leaving Egypt (Ex 16,4-5,11-12; 17,4-7; Nm 14,10-12,26-30…), so now Jesus puts up with those of his contemporaries, very similar to ours: why is God’s logic under the sign of poverty, of hiding, of humiliation, of the last place, of suffering, of death, of giving oneself, of making oneself food for others?

God had responded, to the first murmuring in the desert, with manna, whose name “man hu” means: “What is it?” (Ex 16,15): a clear invitation to discover the origin of this gift. And here Jesus invites us to enter the mystery of his Person, to go back to his divine origin. Faith is a gift from the Father (Jn 6.44; Mt 16.16-17): but to welcome this grace it is necessary to “listen to the Father and learn from him” (Jn 6.45), that is, to renounce our pride, the pretense of self-justification, wanting to explain everything according to our ideas, humbly instead “letting ourselves be taught by God” (Jn 6, 45).

Jesus goes on the counterattack: just as the Jews investigated his origin, so he questions them about their “fathers”: how come these, who had eaten the manna, died? And this death was not only physical, but also deprivation of the Promised Land. Why did that generation not reach salvation, despite the miraculous bread? Jesus becomes a provocateur: “Your fathers died because they did what you do now: they murmured!”: “All the Israelites murmured against Moses and Aaron: «Oh! If only we had died in the land of Egypt or if we had died in this desert!’” (Nm 14,2). And God always listens to his prayer: “I have heard the complaints of the Israelites against me … As I live – says the Lord – I will do to you what I have heard from you: your corpses will fall in this desert. None of you… who have murmured against me will be able to enter the land where I have sworn to make you live” (Nm 14,26-30).

Jesus is “the bread of life” (Jn 6.48): whoever believes in him can truly reach the goal, the Promised Land, “eternal life” (Jn 6.47), the bliss of God. But we must “eat ” of him (Jn 6.51), uniting ourselves closely with him, without murmuring, without continually rebelling, resisting, raising problems and conditions, without always whining, sad and sulky like the pagans “who have no hope” (1 Thess 4, 13). The Targum Jerushalaim commented: “Woe to the people whose food is the bread of heaven and who murmur”: woe to a Church which, despite possessing Christ – the Eucharist, is always grumbling, dissatisfied, intent on complaining and criticizing. The call to Christ is a vocation to hope, to optimism, to peace, to happiness, to joy, to “full joy” (Jn 15.11, 17.13): therefore “do not murmur, as some of our fathers murmured , and fell victim to the exterminator. However, all these things happened to them as an example, and were written as a warning to us, for whom the end of the age has come” (1 Cor 10,10-11).

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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