In today’s Gospel reading from John 6, we hear Jesus as He begins the Bread of Life discourse. In the conversation that Jesus has with the people, the subject of manna comes up. Thus, in the first reading from Exodus 16, we hear about how God miraculously fed the people with manna, the bread from heaven. But the manna was only a precursor of Christ.
The second reading today from Ephesians 4 may seem odd, even a bit out of place given the similarities in the first reading and the Gospel reading. But if we dig deeper, we see a fascinating and intrinsic link. St. Paul writes, “…you should put away the old self of your former way of life…and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth.” So how does this fit in to the theme of today’s liturgy?
The answer, of course, is the Eucharist. Every time we go to Mass, we bring our whole selves – good and bad, pretty and ugly, baggage and all. We offer it all up to God. And Christ offers Himself to us, in the Eucharist. So we come to “put away the old self,” and when we receive the Eucharist, we “put on the new self.” It is said that in the Eucharist, we become what we receive. The Eucharist causes renewal in us. It help us to let go of the old and become more like Christ.
Father, help us to stop clinging to the old self, and to put on the new self as we receive Jesus in the Eucharist. Amen.