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Angelus: Our faith in the Living Bread
(Vatican Radio) “To doubt the divinity of Jesus…is to oppose God's work”, said Pope Benedict XVI Sunday, as he continued his Angelus reflections on the Gospel of John Chapter 6, on Jesus as the Bread of Life.Emer McCarthy reports Listen:
The inner courtyard of the Apostolic Palace in Castel Gandolfo was packed from early morning. As the bells of the nearby church struck noon, the Holy Father appeared at the tiny balcony to the joy of the pilgrims gathered below.
In comments in Italian he said, like those who doubt Christ’s divinity in today’s Gospel – His being the Living Bread from Heaven that gives eternal life - we too must ask ourselves if we really feel this hunger, “hunger for the word of God, hunger to know the real meaning of life. Only those who are attracted by God the Father, who listen and allow themselves to be instructed by Him can believe in Jesus, encounter Him and nourish themselves of Him and this find true life, the path of life, justice, truth and love”.
Below a Vatican Radio translation of Pope Benedict XVI’s Angelus reflections
Dear brothers and sisters!
The reading of the 6th chapter of the Gospel of John, which accompanies us in the Sunday Liturgies, led us to reflect last Sunday on the miraculous multiplication of bread with which or Lord fed a crowd of five thousand and on Jesus’ invitation to those whom he had satisfied to busy themselves in procuring a food that endures for eternal life. Jesus wants to help them understand the deeper meaning of the miracle that he has worked: in miraculous satisfying their physical hunger, he prepares them to welcome the announcement that He is the bread which came down from heaven (cf. John 6:41), that satisfies in a permanent way. Even the Jewish people during the long journey in the desert, had experienced a bread that came down from heaven, manna, which had kept them alive until their arrival in the promised land. Now, Jesus speaks of himself as the true bread which came down from heaven, able to keep alive, not for a moment or part of the journey, but forever. He is the food that gives eternal life, because he is the only begotten Son of God, who is in the bosom of the Father, who came to give man life to the full, to introduce man into the life of God.
In Jewish thought it was clear that the true bread from heaven, that nourished Israel was the Law, the word of God. The people of Israel clearly recognized that the Torah was the fundamental and lasting gift of Moses and that the fundamental element that distinguished them from other people lay in their knowing God's will and therefore the right path of life. Now Jesus, in revealing himself as the bread of heaven, testifies that He is the Word of God in person, the Word incarnate, through which man can make God's will his food (cf. Jn 4:34), which guides and supports our existence.
Thus doubting the divinity of Jesus, as do the Jews of today's Gospel passage, means opposing God's work. They in fact say: Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother! (John 6.42). They do not go beyond his earthly origins, and therefore refuse to welcome Him as the Word of God made flesh. St. Augustine in his homly on the Gospel of John thus comments, "they were far off from the bread of heaven, and knew not how to hunger after it. They had the jaws of their heart languid... This bread, indeed, requires the hunger of the inner man "(Homilies on the Gospel of John 26.1). And we too must ask ourselves if we really feel this hunger, hunger for the word of God, hunger to know the real meaning of life. Only those who are attracted by God the Father, who listen and allow themselves to be instructed by Him can believe in Jesus, encounter Him and nourish themselves of Him and this find true life, the path of life, justice, truth and love. St. Augustine adds: "... the Lord said He was the bread that came down from heaven, exhorting us to believe on Him. For to believe on Him is to eat the living bread. He that believes eats; he is sated invisibly, because invisibly is he born again. A babe within, a new man within. Where he is made new, there he is satisfied with food "(ibid.).
Invoking the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, we ask her to guide us to the encounter with Jesus so that our friendship with Him be always more intense; we ask her to introduce us into the full communion of love with her Son, the living bread which came down from heaven, so as to be renewed by Him in our innermost selves.
Dear brothers and sisters,
My thoughts go at this time to the people of Asia, especially to the Philippines, the People’s Republic of China, hardest hit by violent rains, as well as those of the North-west Iran, hit by a violent earthquake. These events have caused numerous deaths and injuries, thousands of displaced people and extensive damage. I invite you to join me in prayer for those who have lost their lives and for all the people tried by such a devastating disaster. May our solidarity and our support not be lacking to these our brothers and sisters.
I am pleased to greet the English-speaking pilgrims gathered for this Angelus prayer. The readings from today’s Mass invite us to put our faith in Jesus, the “bread of life” who offers himself to us in the Eucharist and promises us the joy of the resurrection. During these summer holidays, may you and your families respond to the Lord’s invitation by actively participating in the Eucharistic sacrifice and by generous acts of charity. Upon all of you I invoke his blessings of joy and peace!