Gospel Reflections

Feast of Holy Thursday

Juan 13:1-15

Feast Day Reflection by Sister Antoinette Tombozi

Published: April 18, 2019



Jesus speaks to us about the bread of life.  The bread from heaven which gives life is Jesus himself. The Gospel offers salvation to those who wish to accept it; this salvation comes through Jesus, our living bread.  The message comes in steps; first through the multiplication of bread.  Do not keep what you have – share: God will multiply it. This multiplication is a symbol of God who provides for those who believe in his love.  The bread is the word of God, Jesus himself - his love which he invites everyone to share. This multiplication is a symbol of God who trusts in those who believe in his love.  The bread is the word of God, Jesus himself.  It is his love which he invites each one to share; to create a world where each person, rather than living for self, gives of self.  This is the principle of salvation which is the opposite of the foolishness of the world.  Jesus takes the first step of salvation, giving his life even unto death on a cross so that no one can doubt his love.  Thus, the multiplication of bread is the symbol of the word proclaimed throughout the world by Jesus himself.

Jesus uses a vocabulary which has a symbolic meaning which astonishes and shocks: “I am the living bread.  Whoever eats this bread will live forever.  The bread which I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

What is the meaning of  “eat this living bread”? When we eat something, what we have eaten disappears and becomes us. This is the image which Jesus uses, but symbolically; “eating this living bread which is Jesus” is to become Jesus, live in his life, look with his eyes, have no other project or will than his. This is the gift which God wishes to give us; he gives it to all who wish to receive it. He says to us, like the father of the Prodigal Son to his son, “Everything which is mine is yours.” God wishes to give this gift to us, but we must truly desire to receive it.  

Jesus has come, he says to Pilate, “to bear witness to the truth,” that is to say, to seek the attitude of God in all the affairs of the world.  For Jesus, it also refers to religious affairs,  justice towards the marginalized, inclusion of those excluded, the value of every person.  The one who “eats the flesh of the son of man” works toward having the attitude of God toward the affairs of our society. She works to view the truth in social, economic, educational, administrative situations. He does not consider injustice as a given or corruption as inevitable; he adopts new directions which Jesus desires to bring to our world ; respect for the truth and for the human person no matter his situation or past; respect for all in the sharing of resources; refusal of the privileges which marginalize the poor and the excluded.  “If you do not eat the flesh of the son of man and if you do not drink his blood, you will not have life in you,” says Jesus in the Gospel.  We can understand this as the Eucharistic bread and blood.  Our true life is that which Jesus shares with us in this sacrament.  But we must also understand that “to eat the flesh of the Son of man” is to share in the spirit and life of Jesus.

Saint Paul tells us, “Do not be irresponsible, understand what is the will of the Lord, be filled with the Holy Spirit.” The unthinking are those who see only their limited and selfish point of view.
Those who are filled with the Holy Spirit are not like those who are individualistic, but as one among others.  They have eyes and hearts open to the situation of others.  The life which they have received through Jesus, “living bread”, they give.  Amen  


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