A reading from the
holy Gospel according to John
said to the Jews:
I am the living bread which has come down from heaven.
Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever;
and the bread that I shall give
is my flesh, for the life of the world.’
Then the Jews started arguing with one another:
How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ they said.
I tell you most solemnly,
if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man
and drink his blood, you will not have life in you.
Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood
has eternal life, and I shall raise him up on the last day.
For my flesh is real food
and my blood is real drink.
He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood
lives in me
and I live in him.
As I, who am sent by the living Father,
myself draw life from the Father,
so whoever eats me will draw life from me.
This is the bread come down from heaven;
not like the bread our ancestors ate:
they are dead,
but anyone who eats this bread
will live for ever.’
CELEBRATING THE LOVE OF GOD
In today’s Gospel, Jesus says ‘Whoever eats my
flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in them’ (John
6: 51-58). And he tells us that if we do not eat the flesh
of the Son of man and drink his blood, we will have no life
in us. The Eucharist is our nourishment, our true food, and
without it we will suffer from spiritual starvation.
In a homily
to his congregation on May 21, 1978, Archbishop Oscar Romero
said, ‘Faith is what a child has when a
father puts out his hands and says ‘Jump’ and the
child leaps into space with the assurance that its’ father’s
hands won’t let it fall’. As today’s Gospel
is proclaimed, a similar faith is required of all who listen,
because believing in the gift of Jesus as living bread challenges
us to move beyond what seems rational and to take that great
leap of faith that says, ‘I do not fully understand,
but I believe ... help my unbelief’. In the verses that
follow St. John the Evangelist attests to the difficulty of
such a leap by telling his readers, ‘As a result of this,
many of his disciples returned to their former way of life
and no longer accompanied him’. They understood that
Jesus was offering himself as true real food and true drink,
but could not accept what their minds could not comprehend.
The challenge is renewed to-day – do we believe and stay
and eat and become one with him and one another, or do we depart?
If Jesus’ references to eating Jesus’ flesh and
drinking his blood are to have any positive meaning, they must
refer to the Eucharist. Flesh and blood then are to be understood
as designating the very life of Jesus – it is his life
and through his mission, believers find eternal life. Participation
in the sacrament of the Eucharist draws one into the very life
In Jesus’ gift of holy and life-giving manna (bread
from heaven) believers meet the Jesus of Calvary, the Risen
Christ and one another. After our encounter with Jesus in the
Eucharist we are to go forth and translate Jesus’ action
into words and works that will feed the hungers of others.
If I have been blessed to eat living bread, then I am challenged
to be bread broken and shared for others. We become what we
his Corinthian readers that their sharing in the bread of
Christ and the body of Christ forged
a unity among
them like no other sharing. The authors of the sacred texts
today call us to renew our sensitivity and gratitude for the
gift of the body of Christ and the union with Jesus that it
gives us. Centuries ago St John Chrysostom wrote ‘Just
as bread is the result of many grains, so too are we mutually
united with Christ’.
Archdeacon of Glendalough