In our Gospel reading we continue with the “bread of Life” discourse in John, and the emphasis seems to turn toward the Eucharist, as Jesus speaks about eating His flesh and drinking His blood; “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. … Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” In the Eucharist, we believe that we share in the sacrifice Jesus made once for all, which is made present for us when we come together for Mass. We believe that we share in the partaking of the gift of Jesus’ very self, His Body and Blood poured out for us.
What Jesus said must have been jarring to the people who were listening (as we will see in next Sunday’s reading). It can be jarring for people to hear it today. But what Jesus says helps me get at the core of what the Eucharist is about: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” When we take His Body and Blood into ourselves in the form of bread and wine, we have this intimate connection with Jesus.
The challenge of the Eucharist is to be willing to have our lives impacted by it. Perhaps a way to express it is that as we “consume” the gift of Jesus in the Eucharist, we open ourselves to be consumed by Him. We open ourselves to live a different kind of life.
In our first reading from Proverbs, we hear about Wisdom, who “has built her house,” and “has spread her table.” “To the one who lacks understanding, she says, ‘Come, eat of my food, and drink of the wine I have mixed! Forsake foolishness that you may live; advance in the way of understanding.” In our second reading from Ephesians, St. Paul writes, “Watch carefully how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise … Therefore, do not continue in ignorance, but try to understand what is the will of the Lord. And do not get drunk on wine … but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and playing to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks always and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.”
To enter into communion with Jesus has implications for how we treat each other and the world. To be consumed by the love of God for us in Jesus Christ leads us to a wisdom contrary to that worldly wisdom which relies on violence and is driven by greed. May our intimate connection with Jesus in the Eucharist lead us to love and reconciliation. May it impel us to work for a world in which all have enough to eat and drink.
Fr. Phil, CP