“The bread that I shall give is my flesh for the life of the world.”
Today is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. Sadly, our churches are still closed but the good news is that they will soon be open again. Have you shared in the Mass streamed on television or radio? Are you looking forward to returning? Did you miss receiving the Lord in Holy Communion? Did this enforced absence make you ask yourself what the Eucharist really means to you?
Today’s Gospel is taken from John, Chapter 6 which is all about bread, three kinds of bread in fact. With the first bread Jesus fed a multitude through the miraculous multiplication of five loaves and two fish.
The following day he exhorted the people to consider the miracle of the loaves as a sign to believe in him as the bread to satisfy the hungers of the spirit: “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never hunger; whoever believes in me will never thirst.”
To believe in Jesus means a commitment to follow his ideals and teaching…as the way, the truth and the life. People who knew Jesus from childhood found it hard to make this commitment.
After bread for the body and bread of Faith, Jesus raised their minds to the third bread. He spoke in the future tense as this bread had not yet been given: “The bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world.” It is no surprise that the people were deeply puzzled by this. So, Jesus rephrased his promise in six further statements. Seven statements. Seven is always the divine number in John’s Gospel. People were still puzzled but Jesus explained that they would understand this future bread in the light of the resurrection: “What if you should see the son of man ascend to where he was before.” It is the Risen Lord whom we meet in the Eucharist.
On the night before he died, at the Last Supper, he gave the blessed bread to the disciples, saying: “This is my body, given up for you.” And giving them the cup of wine, he said, “this cup is the new covenant in my blood poured out for you.”
For some 30 years the Son of God was on earth in a human body of flesh and blood. Now he is embodied in the consecrated bread and wine. Prepare yourself for returning to the banquet of the Eucharist by pondering on the words of Jesus.
I am the living bread which has come down from heaven.
The bread that I shall give is my flesh for the life of the world.
Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in him/her.
For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in them.
As the living Father sent me and I draw life from the Father so whoever eats me will draw life from me.
“The blessing-cup that we bless is a communion with the blood of Christ, and the bread that we break is a communion with the body of Christ” (1 Cor.10:16).
Taken from The Irish Catholic June 11, 2020 – The Sunday Gospel by Fr Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap.