Jesus said to the crowds: “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.”
The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his Flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my Flesh is true food, and my Blood is true drink. Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”
HIS FLESH FOR THE LIFE OF THE WORLD. The second part of Jesus’ discourse on the Bread of Life deals with the sacramental theme. Bread is not just the Word that must be believed. Bread is also the Flesh of Jesus that must be eaten. Jesus’ hearers who take his word literally are filled with disgust, as anyone else with the same understanding. To eat human flesh is abhorrent in any culture. The Jewish law strictly forbids it (cf Lv 3:17; Dt 12:23). But at the Last Supper, Jesus would establish the Eucharist so that his Body (Flesh) would be given for the life of the world. John does not have a narrative of the institution of the Eucharist because the eucharistic theme is presented already in chapter 6 of his Gospel.
Some Christian denominations interpret “eating” in the metaphorical sense or in the sense of believing. Catholics take it as real and actual, but as reference to sacramental participation in the Christian Eucharist. Still, eating (and drinking) should be accompanied by a keen awareness of union with the One who has come down from heaven, who also is the One who has ascended to heaven in his resurrection and ascension. And real communion entails the belief that Jesus is truly present under the Eucharistic species.
Pope Paul VI explains that this presence is “real” not in an exclusive way, as if to suggest that other forms of Christ’s presence are not real, but par excellence, because Christ thereby becomes substantially present, whole and entire, in the reality of his body and blood. Pope John Paul II calls the Eucharist a mystery of presence, the perfect fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to remain with us until the end of the world.
SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2018,” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: [email protected]; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.