This Sunday’s Gospel features the speech made by Jesus in the synagogue at Capernaum.
On the previous day Jesus had fed thousands of people with just five loaves and two fishes. At Capernaum, Jesus reveals the meaning of this miracle – that the time for promises is fulfilled.
The pronouncement of Jesus being the bread of life is a critical moment and a turning point in his public mission. Jesus explains the image of the bread saying that he was sent to offer his own life, and those who want to follow him are asked to join him in a deep and personal way, participating in his sacrifice of love. This is why Jesus will go on to establish the Sacrament of the Eucharist at the Last Supper.
Listening to this speech at Capernaum, the crowd understood that Jesus was not a Messiah who aspired to an earthly throne. Jesus was hinting at the sacrifice of the Cross, in which he would become the bread broken for the people.
In the Gospel of today’s liturgy, Jesus presents himself as the living bread come down from heaven. May we always hunger for the gift of his presence in the Eucharistic sacrifice, wherein Jesus gives us his very self as food and drink to sustain us on our pilgrim journey to the Father.
(Pope Benedict XVI, 19 August 2012