Have you ever approached a hushed group and were certain they were talking about you? It's an uncomfortable feeling to catch people murmuring about what you did, said, or didn't do. It breeds division and exclusion. In today's Gospel, Jesus invites us to just the opposite.
The reading opens with the crowds "murmuring" their doubts about Jesus after he has proclaimed himself the Bread of Life. "Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph ? how can he say 'I have come down from heaven'?" In his response, Jesus brings up the Israelites and the manna God brought them in the desert. If you turn back to the story in Exodus, you'll see another similar word: murmuring. As the going got tough, the Israelites doubted Moses and God's plan to protect and care for them as a chosen people. Here, Jesus proposes a difficult theological concept. Jesus himself is "the living bread" and "flesh for the life of the world."
This is not an exclusive concept. "Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me." Why? Because "the Father who sent me draw[s] him." The next time you're at Mass, take a few moments to watch the communion line. Young and old, families and singles, diverse races and cultures and stories? we are all drawn to the Eucharistic table. Catholic doctrine may require faith, but it is a faith possible for anyone who seeks truth. Christianity does not hide behind locked doors in an exclusive clubhouse, whispering behind the backs of nonbelievers. Jesus compels us to share the love of God the Father for his children, that we one day be joined with Him and "live forever."