John 6:51-58 NRSVue
51I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever, and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
52The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53So 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. 54Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day, 55for my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me and I in them. 57Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which the ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”
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Some thoughts on this scripture
/I am the living bread/. Not cake, Lord. Not nourishment just for feastdays; but our daily staple diet. Through this extraordinary dispensation of the Eucharist, God identifies himself not just with humanity, but with the material world. Through this food, we become part of God as he becomes part of us.
What we receive in the small piece of bread or the sip of wine at the Eucharist is the gift of life from Jesus. This is a sharing in the life of God; in the fragility of the bread and wine is strong food, and joyful drink - fruit of God's creation and work of human hands. It is the gift of God who has become one of us. It is the gift of love with sacrifice. If we have put self out for others in big or small ways, or have cried for another's woes or laughed for another's joy, or held a hand in sympathy or just listened when there were no answers, we know the quality of this gift. In the Eucharist God is close in his creation, In Jesus we can recognise God near at hand. Pope Benedict writes - 'we have to rediscover God, not just any God, but the God that has a human face, because when we see Jesus Christ we see God'.
The mind may have questions about what Jesus says but my prayer draws me to listen to him, heart to heart. He leads me to appreciate the closeness to which he calls me.
‘Eat’, ‘live’ and ‘abide’ are all words that belong to the home. Jesus invites me to bring anything in my life that is unsettled or out of place, that it may find its home in him.
There was once a king who engaged a street artist to make a painting of the Last Supper. He wanted a picture of Jesus and his friends at their farewell meal for his banqueting room. The artist had Jesus and his friends around the supper table ,but he also included all kinds of people around the table, showing people from many races. There were people who were sick, lame and crippled; men and women; young and old; beggars and misfits and some not very nice people . When the King saw the painting he went into a rage ,and shouted at the artist, 'Of what is this a painting?' The artist said 'Your Highness, this is a painting of God who delights in all people ; all saints and all sorts are welcomed to the Kingdom and the earthly banquet...and that is my understanding of the Last Supper, Holy Communion and Eucharist.’