Today’s Gospel: John 6:52-59
Our gospel today is a continuation of the discussion of Jesus as the Bread of Life. After listening to Jesus preach to the people, the Jewish listeners react to Jesus’ words in verse 51: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” They disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ Understandably enough the Jews were deeply shocked at Jesus’ invitation given their reverence for, even a fear of, blood. If we were to put ourselves in their shoes and hear those words for the very first time I think that we too would find them very strange, to say the least. But Jesus doesn’t soften or temper his language in the least bit in effect saying: Eat my flesh. Drink my blood. If you don’t you’ll die. If you do, you’ll live forever. He drives this point home with clarity and repetition.
Certainly there are Eucharistic references in what Jesus is saying but we need to understand the Eucharist as a sacrament or sign of a much wider relationship with Jesus. The truth that Jesus wants us all to understand is that he came down from heaven as one who would offer himself as a sacrifice for the life of the world. We eat and drink our way to life – taking in the totality of Jesus’ very being. Jesus is offering life beyond words, indescribable and yet recognizable when we taste it. Any other diet leaves us empty and hollow and hungry. We consume his life that he might dwell in and change ours. We eat and take in his life, his love, his mercy, his forgiveness, his way of being and seeing, his compassion, his presence, and his relationship with the Father. Today and everyday, may we be alert to the many ways that Jesus comes to us and offers himself to us.
Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down
from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world:
Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in
him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one
God, now and for ever. Amen. (BCP)
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