Today’s Gospel Reading at the Sunday Mass comes from John 6:41-51:
“I am the bread that came down from heaven,”
and they said,
“Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph?
Do we not know his father and mother?
Then how can he say,
‘I have come down from heaven?’”
Jesus answered and said to them,
“Stop murmuring among yourselves.
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him,
and I will raise him on the last day.
It is written in the prophets:
They shall all be taught by God.
Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me.
Not that anyone has seen the Father
except the one who is from God;
he has seen the Father.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever believes has eternal life.
I am the bread of life.
Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died;
this is the bread that comes down from heaven
so that one may eat it and not die.
I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”
A Scriptural dialog that is essential to the Catholic theology on the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is found in the Sixth Chapter of the Gospel of John. I explored importance of understanding and digging deep in to this chapter in my book Cooperating with God: Life with the Cross and in my articles Proofs of the Catholic Church – #5: It all Stands or Falls on John 6 and How the Ascension of Lord and the Holy Eucharist are Dependent on Each Other.
The one thing that continues to intrigue me about John 6 is how deeply intricate it is with our understanding that throughout sacred Scripture the Word of God has always been thought of as food – as something edible – both metaphorical and actual. The implications of that understanding takes on an even more profound meaning in the New Covenant when we discover that the Word of God is actually a person named Jesus, who repeatedly taught His followers about the eternal benefits of eating His flesh and drinking His blood. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever.
As said, the Word of God was always known to be something digestible. For example there was the Mosaic command to: “Therefore, take these words of mine into your heart and soul. Bind them at your wrist as a sign, and let them be a pendant on your forehead” (Dt. 11:18; Cf. Exo. 13:9,12; Dt. 6:8). It was clear to the Jews that God’s words were a means to achieve eternal life. The tefillin, which is composed of two sets of leather boxes (containing four passages from the Torah – two from Exodus and two from Deuteronomy), is tied to the head and arm by means of leather straps, helping the Jew to focus within by the restraints imposed from without; thereby enabling a humble and uninterrupted contemplation of God’s commandments and placing the adherent in a state of constant awareness of God’s presence. Because of the materials that form the tefillin (i.e., leather, parchment wrapped in calf’s tail hair) are edible, devotees believed that the word of God was symbolically comestible.Knowing that the Word of God is edible, are we then surprised that Miriam and Yoseph placed baby Yeshua was placed in a stone livestock feeding trough (manger) after He born? The Word of God is Jesus and Jesus has always been food for the mind, body, and soul.
Be alarmed and be blessed that the only place that still believes in the power and grace of Jesus’ words first uttered at the First New Covenant Seder meal, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in anemeno [Heb. perpetual wait] of me.” and “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you,” is the Catholic Church. Does anyone else find it peculiar that only Catholics believe that Jesus IS the Flesh and Blood at Mass under the appearance of Bread and Wine, while all other Christians believe that the Bread/Cracker and Wine/Grape Juice is somethings less than that? If the Holy Eucharist is truly what we believe it to be and it has the graces and power attached to it as such, then who benefits by dividing Christians on this doctrine? Who benefits by tricking Christians into believing that the Holy Eucharist isn’t exactly what Jesus said it was? Certainly, it is the same serpent who told Eve that the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil isn’t exactly how bad God said it was.
If our whole self (mind, body, and soul) needs the food that this temporal provides so that we might continue to partake in the temporal realm, then how much more does our whole self need divine food so that we might partake in the divine realm? If it’s true that we become what we eat in the temporal realm, then how much more important is it for us to eat Him who is both Human and Divine?
“Lord God, I pray that the Body and Blood of your Son Christ Jesus becomes a permanent part of me, and that I die to Him. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.” That is the prayer that I say after every time I receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Christ Jesus at Mass, and I have great confidence in the fact that through my cooperation with His Grace in this unique Sacrament He is uniquely and actively conforming me into the image of His Son.
I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear me and be glad.
Glorify the LORD with me,
Let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
And delivered me from all my fears.
Look to him that you may be radiant with joy.
And your faces may not blush with shame.
When the afflicted man called out, the LORD heard,
And from all his distress he saved him.
The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him and delivers them.
Taste and see how good the LORD is;
blessed the man who takes refuge in him...
Scripture texts in this blog are taken from the New American Bible with Revised New Testament and Revised Psalms © 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.