“THE BREAD OF LIFE” Pentecost 11 2021 Year B
We probably all remember the add on TV some years ago about the bloke who goes into the shop for a bottle of milk and the shop keeper asks – “Low fat, no fat, full cream, high calcium, high protein, high protein soy, skim milk, omega 3, high calcium with vitamin D and Foliate, or extra dollop?”
And he says, “I just want milk that tastes like real milk!”
It may not surprise you but since then the milk industry has produced over 22 varieties of milk for human consumption including some that are plant based products.
Today you can buy Buffalo Milk, Cow Milk, Lactose Free, pasteurized and unpasteurized, Goat Milk, Sheep Milk, Camel Milk, Mixed Milk, Standardized Milk, Toned Milk, Double Toned Milk, Full Cream Milk, Skimmed Milk and Extra Skimmed Milk which looks like watered down and for which you will pay twice the price of normal milk!
And it doesn’t stop there for we are told that there are actually 4,628 versions of milk from a variety of mammals.
So milk is not just milk! And we haven’t even begun to explore the varieties of Bread available to us in the world!
Bread is the central theme in our Gospel for today.
We may well say that “Bread is bread.” However if you are Celiac or Gluten free then you may disagree, strongly!
You see there is a distinction between bread and bread.
There is a world of difference between the many varieties of bread and within each variety there is another whole range of selection.
We are told that there are 25 types of bread and truth to tell the variety of bread is only limited by the availability and variety of seeds and nuts which can be made into flour.
There is White Bread, Brown, Bread, Grainy Breed, Seedy Bread, Wheat Bread, Rye Bread, Barley Bread, Rice Bread, Corn Bread, Millet Bread, Oat Bread, Whole Wheat Bread.
There is Sourdough Bread, Gluten Free Bread. Unleavened Bread, Flat Bread, Roti Bread, Naan Bread – indeed there are 22 different types of Indian flat bread!
There is Vegan Bread, Keto Bread, Paleo Bread, Nordic (Viking) Bread all made from seeds like Almonds or Hazelnuts or Walnuts or potato or tubas.
In the Middle East and in Palestine in the days of Jesus there was also a huge variety of bread; Markook, Khubz Rukak, Shrak, Pita, Mashrooh, Shaj and Lavash bread.
In the same way that today “all milk is not the same”, in the time of Christ “all bread was not the same”.
There is a suggestion that some of the Jews who had followed Jesus and his disciples across the Lake of Galilee were challenging him regarding the subject of bread.
Words in the text of John 6 allude to the Exodus event.
Verses 41 and 43 where Jesus tells them to, “stop grumbling among yourselves” reminds us of the Exodus and the people of Israel in the wilderness.
They “grumbled” about leaving the fleshpots of Egypt.
They “grumbled” about the lack of water and food and the variety of food.
They “grumbled” against Moses, their leaders and they “grumbled” against God.
Jesus reminds them of the Exodus and of the “Manna from heaven’ or the bread which God gave to them which only lasted a day and then spoiled and went rotten in the sun.
Jesus tells his hearers that he is the “Bread of Life”.
He tells them that he is “the bread from heaven”.
He tells them that he, his words, his teaching which he has received from his Father is the bread which satisfies and the bread which leads to eternal life.
He tells us that if we ingest this bread; if we internalize him and his teachings and take him into our life – into our bodies, then we will not die as those who died in the wilderness, but we will live – we will live forever!
So he who was born in Bethlehem which in the Hebrew language is translated as “The house of Bread”. May he who was born in Bethlehem, Jesus Christ our Lord, may he become for us, “the Bread of Life”. AMEN