When the people saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into those boats and crossed to Capernaum to look for Jesus. When they found him on the other side, they said to him, ‘Rabbi, when did you come here?’ Jesus answered: ‘I tell you most solemnly, you are not looking for me because you have seen the signs but because you had all the bread you wanted to eat. Do not work for food that cannot last, but work for food that endures to eternal life, the kind of food the Son of Man is offering you, for on him the Father, God himself, has set his seal.’ Then they said to him, ‘What must we do if we are to do the works that God wants?’ Jesus gave them this answer, ‘This is working for God: you must believe in the one he has sent’. So they said, ‘What Sign will you give to show us that we should believe in you? What work will you do? Our fathers had manna to eat in the desert; as scripture says: He gave them bread from heaven to eat'. Jesus answered: ‘I tell you most solemnly, it was not Moses who gave you bread from heaven, it is my Father who gives you the bread from heaven, the true bread; for the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world’. ‘Sir,’ they said ‘give us that bread always.’ Jesus answered: ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never be hungry; he who believes in me will never thirst.’
After the miraculous multiplication of the loaves, Jesus sent his disciples across the lake to Capernaum. As for himself, Jesus disappeared from the crowd because he knew they were thinking to proclaim king. But this kingship that they wanted was a worldly one and was not identical with Jesus wanted.
The crowd was persistent. When they could not find Jesus and his disciples, they started to search for them by setting out by boats to cross the lake. Eventually, they located Jesus in Capernaum and asked him why he had come there. In today’s gospel, Jesus told them very clearly that the free bread he had given them was their main reason for seeking him and not his teaching or his miracles as they should be understood.
Unlike the synoptic gospel writers, who related the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, instead, St. John gives a long discourse on the Eucharist that Jesus delivered to the crowd at Capernaum on the day after the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves.
It would be natural that the mind of more than 5000 people, who were fed at the multiplication of the loaves, recalled the bread from heaven which God had given to their ancestors in the desert at the time of the Exodus. However, on the next day, the crowd hoped for another free meal rather than looked for religious instruction from Jesus, despite that they knew and admitted he was the second Moses, the prophet from God as we learned at the gospel of last Sunday. We can see that their thoughts focused on worldly matters. They were not interested in things spiritual and the everlasting life.
Jesus told they how wrong their attitude to life was because they were concentrating all their thoughts and efforts o the things of this life. Instead of looking for the bread which brought real but transitory value, Jesus told them, they should look for the bread that bring them eternal life. He tried to tell them that he could give them this “food which endures” because God sent him on earth so that people would accept and believe him.
Having heard this, the crowd demanded further proofs because manna was given by God to their fathers. In reply, Jesus explained to them that the manna given to their fathers was not bread from heaven, it was earthly food that preserved earthly life. But, he went further, God was now giving the true bread from heaven – Christ himself. He had come down from heaven and was to give them eternal life, if only they would believe in him because acceptance of Christ as God’s intermediary with men was the first essential step on the road to eternal life.
In today’s gospel we hear of the lack of faith of those people who were fed by Jesus’ multiplication of loaves but still did not believe him being sent by God. We must bear in mind that it was only with the full revelation given by Christ that men learned of God’s wonderful plan for them. We should give our thanks to God for we have this full knowledge today. The questions that we should ask ourselves today are: Do we appreciate our good fortune? Do we live up to the teaching which we know is true? Do we ever allow our focus on worldly affairs and forget that this earth is not our home? Amen.