St. Joseph the worker, Friday – 1st May 2020 — Gospel: John 6, 52-59
Promises that are full and filling
In these verses Jesus picks up on feeding, as He speaks of giving his flesh to eat and drink his blood. He tells his hearers of their absolute need to eat than to understand. The verb “to eat” is repeated six times that accentuates this importance. Frederick Buechner pointed out that Jesus said, “Take and eat,” and not, “Take and understand.” The words “flesh” and “blood” point to the cross, where Jesus’ flesh will be broken and his blood will be spilled. Through his violent death on the cross, Jesus totally gives his whole as life-giving for the world. As we eat the bread and drink the cup, we participate in the promise that Jesus fulfilled on the cross. Jesus promises rather than instructs or explains (6,54-57). He promises that whoever eats the flesh and drinks the blood of Jesus, the Son of Humanity, has eternal life now and will be raised up on the last day. He promises to provide as food, his flesh and blood, for the life of the world. Jesus promises to nourish the world with the gift of himself. In, with, and under the bread and wine of Holy Communion, which is nothing other than Christ’s body and blood, Jesus nourishes our faith, forgives our sin, and empowers us to be witnesses to the Gospel. The promised eternal life does not come through understanding correctly or believing the right things. Eternal life is being in close communion with Jesus: to remain in Jesus and to have Jesus remain in us. As we eat and drink, Christ moves us closer to himself, so close that we are as intimate with Jesus as the Father is with the Son. As proclaimers we are called to preach Jesus’ promises rather than explain the sacrament.