Sunday, May 28, 2023


Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M.
/ Categories: Homilies

I Am the Bread of Life

Homily for Thursday of the Third Week in Easter

According to an article published online in 2012 by the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Sr. Suzanne Toolan wrote the song “I Am the Bread of Life” in 1966 while teaching at a Catholic girls' high school in California. Sr. Suzanne told the Catholic News Service in an interview that she was initially unhappy with the song and actually tore it up and threw it in the waste basket. But then, Sr. Suzanne said, “And then this little girl came out of the infirmary and said, ‘What was that? That was beautiful!’ I went right back and Scotch-taped it up.”

Once again in today’s Gospel passage, we hear Jesus tell us that he is the bread of life. He makes this statement in the course of delivering what has become known as The Discourse on the Bread of Life found in chapter six of St. John’s Gospel. This particular chapter of the Gospel is used every day of the third week in the Easter season. Consequently, we have ample opportunity to reflect on this particular miracle of our faith. Yes, let us not forget that this is a miracle that happens every time we gather around the table of the Lord to celebrate the Eucharist.

One of God’s greatest miracles was the manna in the desert that Jesus mentions in this chapter of St. John’s Gospel. God fed an entire people for forty years with this miraculous food. Forty years of an ongoing miracle – what could possibly top that in the eyes of any faithful Jewish person in Jesus’s time? Yet, we believe that Jesus leaves us an even greater miracle: the Eucharist - his gift to sustain us not only for forty years but until he returns, however many years that might take. In this miracle we have the fullness of his presence in our midst, bread and wine which we consume so that we can become more like Jesus.

Sister Suzanne Toolan’s hymn is often used at funerals. Before I was ordained, I was often asked to sing at funerals so I am intimately acquainted with this hymn. I think it rather interesting that she was originally unsatisfied with it as it has now become a staple in many situations where we celebrate the Eucharist. The message it contains is one of consolation at times of sorrow and of joy when we consider how blessed we are to witness this miracle every day.

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