|Sunday Gospel||John 6:51-58|
‘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. Jesus replied:
‘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.’
There used to be a tendency, when reading the Gospels, to regard the Jews as the enemy. They were the ones who didn't believe; they were the ones who criticised and accused; they were the one who had Jesus put to death.
At some points in history this, regrettably, created prejudice against the Jews and acts of discrimination did take place; still take place, under the facade of defending our God.
If we take off the glasses of self-righteousness, particularly at times like this, we can see that we are all going to have difficulties with the message that Jesus brings. Jesus is one of their community; they know his parents; he knows his scripture. But what he is saying challenges everything their religion has taught them, everything their culture believes is right.
Even without the purity laws that control what may be eaten, they knew that you don't eat human beings. And surely, even more importantly, you don't eat your God?
'How?' is a very genuine reaction.
The conversation that has been going on over these weeks leads Christians to their understanding of why we celebrate the Eucharist. That Christ makes himself present during Mass in bread and in wine so that he can feed us with himself. That feeding us with himself means that we are fed by the Father. And that this feeding will give us eternal life.
Two thousand years and a great deal of thought later we should ask ourselves the question - do we believe what Jesus is giving us? Do we really believe?
How much do we want to live forever? When sometimes, just living now is hard enough?
Depending on the translation Jesus tells us that his flesh and blood are 'real' or 'true'. In a world where life seems to change from one moment to the next; where joy quickly bcomes sadness and peace suddenly develops into anxiety; wher regrets loom over every bright moment it is sometimes impossible to believe in the eternal 'now-ness' that is God and God's love for us - no matter what.
We need to be reminded that we can feel 'full' of that Love, but not through any act of our own. Just as we take into ourselves the harvested bread and wine that feeds the weaknesses of our bodies so we need the offered flesh and blood of Jesus, our eternal God, to fill ourselves with food for a journey that moves beyond life.
We must be hungry for God.
Does our faith tell us that this is 'real'; that this is 'true'?
If so - what are we doing with this, most precious, gift?