Gospel of John 6:51-58
Jesus said, “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.”. The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”
Let us Pray: Eternal God, you are present with us throughout our lives, Protect us from our enemies. May we learn to live together in unity, that in all we do, we may sing your praises now and forever. This we pray in the name of your Son. Amen.
Imagine yourself listening to Jesus as he says these words: Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. How do you think you would have reacted? Maybe like those who are new to church and come to church for their first communion experience. No wonder some stopped following Jesus when they heard this. But Jesus didn’t launch these rhetorical bombshells so that they’d fizzle with time. No, I think it’s clear that Jesus was stirring the pot on purpose. He wanted to say things that challenged people, even to the point of having to decide that they’d have to leave. One thing is clear is that Jesus wasn’t about people-pleasing. He wasn’t about making everyone can go away happy and come again happy. He wasn’t about just saying and doing just about anything to attract attention. Sometimes people get mad, and they leave, and they never come back. And all because something was said that they didn’t like or agree with. But following Jesus means sometimes you need to say the hard thing. Sometimes there is no win-win situation where everyone goes home happy. Maybe some will be like Jesus where those in the upper echelon of the church wanted to silence Him. But the truth also has this remarkable quality: it sets you free. And it brings your life together with God. Let the word of God lead us to the bread of life. We may not be able, for many reasons, to always receive the bread of Holy Communion, but we can read the word of God, preparing us to receive the message of Christ in communion. It helps to enlarge our appreciation of the presence of the Lord. Jesus is present when his word is read, and the bread is consecrated. Give thanks! Give us this day O Lord our daily bread!
I will close with the words from Spiritual Communion which really sums up this week’s Gospel. Lord Jesus Christ, I believe that you are truly present in the Holy Sacrament, and, since I cannot at this time receive communion, I pray you to come into my heart. I unite myself with you and embrace you with all my heart, my soul, and my mind. Let nothing separate me from you; let me serve you in this life until, by your grace, I come to your glorious kingdom and unending peace. Amen.