His Flesh and His Word Forever

John 6: 52-59
Acts 9:1-20 / Ps 117

Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.
(John 6:53)

Nothing nourishes more than Jesus,
And as precious as His Word be fed.
In Scriptures we receive His Good News,
In the Eucharist our daily bread.

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. “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remain in me and I in him. 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.’ He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum. (John 6:52-59)

Reflection

Jesus had just performed the miracle of the multiplication of loaves and fish, which was not only an expression of His compassion for the hungry multitude that followed Him, but more importantly, to prefigure God’s gift of the Holy Eucharist to future generations of Christians. Unfortunately, many of His disciples, in spite of the signs that He had shown, left Him because they could not understand His words (6:66). The same can be said of the Protestants who had chosen to leave the Catholic Church because they could not accept the doctrine of transubstantiation, wherein we believe the Bread of Life was truly initiated in the Last Supper when He commanded, “Do this in memory of me” (Luke 22:19).

The word memorial for the Hebrews was seen in a different light as we understand it today. It did not mean something that occurred only in the memory that brought recollections of a past event. Rather, memorial signified making present once again a past event. The Eucharist is a meal celebrated in memorial of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus. In our participation at that meal, those events become present to us as we relive them over and over again. In fact, as if to emphasize the point, Jesus repeated the eating of His flesh and blood six times in John 6, in verses 53 to 58, ending with the words, “This is the bread that came down from heaven… the one who eats this bread will live forever.” This is clearly His prophecy of the Eucharist.

In the Mass, the mystery of the Eucharist is relived every hour and everyday all over the world without losing its essence and meaning. The Word of God, which is also part of the liturgy of the Mass, is likewise read and heard every day, throughout our lives, delivering God’s message to us in many different ways. A day will never be the same without receiving the Bread of Life and the Word of God. His Bread and His Word give us life, nourishing our spirits. Jesus is inviting us to take His Flesh and Blood and His Word into the very essence of our being. The life that He offers is the very life of God Himself. Like the multitudes in Jesus’ time, our spirits always hunger for the Bread of Life.

We praise you, Lord God eternal. Your Flesh and Blood and Your Word will nourish us all the days of our lives, until the end of time. Forgive us, Lord, if sometimes we doubt; may our faith be fortified by receiving You constantly. Amen.

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