Virgin and Child with an Angel. 1400’s Sandro Botticelli (Florence) Gardner Museum
I am the bread of life that came down from heaven. John 6. The devotional masterpiece, above, on display locally, illustrates the part of John’s Gospel that we are contemplating presently in church. The angel (registering a little bit of the tragedy of the story on his face) has wheat and grapes in his hands, gifts of God that become the means of grace in holy communion. Jesus identifies with the grain and the grapes; his body and blood will nourish the world in the bread and wine. The holy mother is the picture of peace and providence, actively approving of the whole arrangement. The child in her left arm will be the life of the world, symbolized by the wheat in her right hand.
We continue the bread of life narrations from John’s Gospel. It’s Jesus in sharp exchange and conflict with the persistent crowd. They want bread for their bodies, and a sign–or proof of his divine power–Jesus wants to give them himself as the one who truly sustains human life.
People, all people, need guidance, hope, love, etc. Throughout John’s gospel, Jesus refers to himself as the one who is not only bread, but also light and truth and life. He fulfill’s God’s will and embodies God’s love. On Sunday we will look a little deeper at the way John picks up central symbols of human well-being and assigns them to Jesus.
Stay near Jesus, that’s my pastoral advice (as you well know). Listen to his words, repeat them and ponder them, receive Jesus into your body in the sacrament of the altar.