Fr. Richmond was preparing to start the Mass in a little barrio chapel when bullet shots rang out. The startled parishioners saw their priest sprawled on the floor, lifeless on the spot where he stood Sunday after Sunday preaching the living Word and breaking the Bread of life. While the attackers fled, the people experienced a different kind of Mass. The bread was real body given up for them and the wine was real blood poured out for them.

Jesus knew that people would seek him out for the wrong reasons. They saw the miracle and they came to increase their fascination. They ate the multiplied bread and they thought that to follow him would be life without hunger and pain. The people thought that Moses’ manna had returned for good.

The Lord transformed the people’s expectations by leading them to a new understanding. The true Bread that came down from heaven was not a gustatory delight, however fleeting and temporary. The true Bread has come to give life – abundant and enduring. This Bread was now a Person, the totality of Jesus himself – his presence, his message, his death and resurrection.

Whenever we hear the words of the gospel today, “I am the bread of life,” we usually think of our Holy Communion. There we receive the sacramental bread which is a fresh, fragile, crisp and immaculate wafer. While outwardly we receive this kind of bread, inwardly we come in contact with the real Bread from heaven, Jesus himself. He gives life by losing his own. He brings joy through his suffering on the cross.

Many times we hold on to a faith in Jesus that is all about happiness, wealth, success, deliverance and bliss. Yes, this is what God wants for us as his gift and reward. But Jesus leads us to blessings through the painful act of losing. He leads us to joy through a downpour of tears. How else can we explain the puzzles of Christian life – temptations, sufferings, defeats, losses, anxieties, sickness and death. These too, God wants us to pass through as our purification, strength and victory.

The next time we line up for Communion, let us imagine Jesus’ sweat, blood and tears. And let us unite to him the mess of our lives, the brokenness of our dreams, and the wounds of our struggles. We recover the real meaning of the Eucharist when we feel the broken body and spilled blood – of Jesus and of ourselves.