The Living Bread
“I am the bread of life.”John 6:35
It is Maundy Thursday. Tonight we celebrate the institution of the Lord’s Supper. In His love, Jesus gives us His Body and His Blood in our celebration of the Holy Eucharist. When we come to the Altar and receive the Sacrament, we receive the Bread of life, the Body of Jesus. Nutritionists will tell us that we need to be careful about what we eat. The 19th century French author Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin is credited with saying “You are what you eat.” He actually said, “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.” Nevertheless, what we eat does change us, for either good or bad. What we eat can affect our physical, mental, and spiritual health. In the Holy Eucharist we have the greatest food of all, Jesus, the Bread that came down from heaven. When we receive the Holy Eucharist we become what we eat — His Body! Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin said, “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.” Tell me that you eat the Body of Jesus, and I will tell you that you are being transformed into His likeness.
In St. John’s Gospel, the Apostle presents seven I Am statements given by Jesus to describe Himself. (I will append them to the end of this meditation.) It is highly appropriate that the first of these seven is this: “I am the bread of life…I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh” (John 6:35,51). The Eucharist is God’s chosen means for us to remain intimately in “communion” with Him. The word communion comes from the Latin meaning “participation in something as one; or that which is common to all.” St. Augustine said that communion comes from the Latin com- “together” and unus “one.” When we receive Communion—the Body of Christ—we are in communion with Him, and we all come together as one in Him. That is life in the New Jerusalem, living together as One Body in Jesus. We cannot live in the New Jerusalem without living our lives in Jesus. And it is in receiving the “Bread of Life which came down from Heaven” that we are drawn together in Him. He feeds us, nourishes us, heals us, and keeps us alive in His living bread, His Living Body. We NEED the Eucharist to maintain that communion with Him, and in Him with one another.
What does the New Jerusalem look like? As we noted on Sunday, it looks like Jesus. It looks like the Communion we share with Him and with one another in Him. The New Jerusalem comes alive in the Eucharistic banquet of the Lord where we come together as one in Jesus Christ.
Here is the list of those seven I AM statements in John’s Gospel:
“I am the bread of life” (John 6:35)
“I am the light of the world” (John 8:12).
“I am the door of the sheep” (John 10:7).
“I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11).
“I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25).
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).
“I am the true vine” (John 15:1)