I Am the Living Bread
Corpus Christi Year A
John 6: 51 — 58
A large proportion of Christendom celebrates, on the first Sunday after Trinity Sunday, the gift by our Lord of himself as "living bread." It is one of the most beautiful passages of Scripture, which Christians, sadly to form, can never agree on. Commentaries are full of interpretations based on the personal beliefs of the writers and it is rather easy to be misled. Only those who meditate on the passage are likely to find its treasures.
We will offer a simple meditative reflection on the short reading, rather than the usual notes.
If we glance back in St John's Gospel, our Lord stated, a few moments before our reading commences:
In preparation for the meditation let's consider the significance of the words of Jesus, guided by M.F. Sadler's commentary of 1898.
Our Lord then elaborates what he has began to reveal:
It is with these words that Jesus provoked a dispute among his listeners, proclaiming that the bread, which must be eaten to bring eternal life, is his flesh, given for the life of the world. To his listeners, this was abhorrent. Jesus however, does not back off at the arguing he sees before him, but drives his essential message home even more strongly by adding that not only must we eat the flesh of the Son of Man, but also drink his blood. This, of course, was an abomination to the Jews, who remained perplexed and confused.
The terms flesh and blood were well understood by them to have referred to a sacrifice. What took time to be understood was the message that our Lord's words imply that his human life is a gift (a sacrifice) so that the world may have life. In other words, the life and teaching of Jesus are the only food and drink which will appease the hunger and quench the thirst of humanity for something beyond the material world in which we live. It is this great truth which led the early Church to "remember" our Lord's self-gift by following his command to celebrate solemnly his Last Supper, often referred to as the Eucharist, Holy Communion, or Mass.
We take into our own bodies his life-giving body and blood in the way he showed us and commanded us to do.
This taking into ourselves of divine life is the ultimate symbol to us of God's abiding within us; the God who is known to us through the person of Jesus.
We close our meditation with a short passage by Mary Betz:
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