The Jews murmured because Jesus had said, “I am the bread which comes from heaven.” And they said, “This man is the son of Joseph, isn’t he? We know his father and mother. How can he say that he has come from heaven?” Jesus answered them, “Do not murmur among yourselves. No one can come to me unless he is drawn by the Father who sent me, and I will raise him up on the last day. It has been written in the Prophets. They shall all be taught by God. So whoever listens and learns from the Father comes to me. For no one has seen the Father except the One who comes from God; he has seen the Father. Truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Though your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, they died. But here you have the bread which comes from heaven, so that you may eat of it, and not die. I am the living bread which has come from heaven, whoever eats of this bread will live forever. The bread I shall give is my flesh, and I will give it for the life of the world.” John 6: 41-51
Amidst suffering, who can talk about God? In the midst of hunger, thirst and cold, who will not ask God? People question the will of God. Is it the will of God that floods come and people suffer? Where can we find God in suffering? Is God present in suffering? Is Jesus, the bread of life real when people suffer?
Finding God in suffering is to be at the bosom of God, as God is very very much present in one’s suffering and in the suffering of thousands of people. In the very debris of one’s life, God is there. It is when we live in God that we will live in Him.
In the recent calamity or deluge as other people call it, where is the God of life and who promised to give life of the world? When can see and experience God in the moments when we are aware of His presence and recognize Him in the moment. As an individual and as a nation, as a Filipino people composed of individuals, families and communities who put their faith and hope in God, the bread of life. This God who offered himself as bread for us to eat and live.
We find God in the people who shared food, water, clothing, medicine, and other basic needs with those who were victims of the floods that hit Metro Manila and its neighboring provinces.
After typhoon “Gener” passed by the country the week before, the country had experienced heavy downpour caused by the southwest monsoon rains (Habagat) that resulted in the swelling and overflowing of dams, rivers, creeks, and canals that also caused communities to be submerged in deep and treacherous waters.
Thousands of families suffered as houses were underwater, leaving thousands of our kababayans homeless. It had also caused the death of a number of our fellow “kababayans” due to landslide, drowning, and sickness. It’s a very painful scene, a horrible one as we witnessed the raging flow of water as people helplessly clung on to anything they can hold on to, as others were trapped in their own homes as the waters rose, waiting for help on their homes’ higher decks or rooftops.
People from all ages hurriedly trooped to evacuation centers. Young and old, children and the sick, they went to the nearby public schools or gymnasium, in churches and chapels to find safety and security.
For a couple of days they stayed and slept on floors and benches as they continues to fear for the heavy rains and floods. They received food rations from organized groups or concerned individuals who are willing to share life, to share hope. Fellow kababayans, especially those who were not directly affected were just willing and ready to offer help to the flood victims as they volunteered in the varied forms of quick responses and relief assistance.
People were hungry and in cold as the dark and gloomy heavens enveloped the areas affected by the almost endless downpour in days; restless and disturbed. But as people gazed far, they also let out smiles and hoped.
We continue to hope for life, we continue to reflect and ask ourselves on why this is happening to us? Surely, scientists can explain to us from their point of view, engineers can present proposals for solutions, but as ordinary people who just live day after day, can we seriously also ask ourselves why?
In our Gospel reading, Jesus presents himself as the bread that comes from heaven and whoever eats this bread may live forever and for the life of the world. People are hungry for food, for bread, for hope, for well- being. Are we also like Jesus offering others hope? As God is infinite, He is forever; and if we want to have life to its fullest and live forever, then we follow God and so receive Him, and we shall live.
Let us pause and ask ourselves:
Have we become channels of life who are life- giving and life- nurturing?
Have we really received Jesus in our lives and that is why we live?
If yes, have we shared Jesus with others so that they also have life?
Prayer: Almighty, Compassionate and Provident Father, nourish us with your love in Jesus who is the bread that gives life and sustains life. May we listen carefully to your Word and learn it by heart so that we will be able to see you and recognize you as our one and only Lord and God. May we receive you as our bread and drink so that we may live to the fullest and become life of the world whose people suffer and in pain. Jesus if you live in us and we in You, then we become symbols of hope and instruments of your mercy for the world. This we ask through Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.