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Sunday, August 26, 2012

John Chapter 6 - The Bread of Life - John 6:60 - 69

John 6:60-69
The Bread of Life

"Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
remains in me and I in him
."  (John 6:56)

In last weeks Gospel the words and teaching of Jesus were too hard for some of his followers to accept, "As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him." (John 6: 66)

Could it be, as Saint Thomas Aquinas said, that "A saying is hard either because it resists the intellect or because it resists the will, that is, when we cannot understand it with our mind, or when it does not please our will.  Because he (Jesus) was not teaching them things that were pleasing to them, they were waiting for an occasion to leave him." 

Or were the followers really trying to understand what Jesus was teaching, not looking "for an occasion to leave him?"  If Jesus was speaking metaphorically in John 6:53-56 he could have easily cleared up any misunderstandings. But he didn't. Instead he asked the others who remained, "Do you also want to leave?" (John 6:67)

Why does Jesus neglect to clear up his followers "misunderstanding?" Because Jesus was not speaking metaphorically he was speaking literally. He was telling the truth. His flesh is true food, and His blood is true drink.

In the words of Father James Kubicki, "Many today don't believe in the miraculous mystery of the Eucharist...It is hard to believe that bread and wine become the body and blood of Jesus Christ, and there is really no way to explain it. That is what a miracle is, what a mystery is...That is why we are called to believe. To believe is a verb, not a once and for all act, it is ongoing and requires us to make an act of faith every time we genuflect before the Blessed Sacrament, bow before the Montrance or receive Holy Communion."

The Bread of Life Discourse of John Chapter 6 was included to teach us that the Eucharist is not simply a symbol or a commemoration, but that it truly is the Holy Sacrament of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, made present at the Table of the Eucharist by the power of the apostolic successors of the apostles (our Priests) at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

What Jesus proclaimed in the Bread of Life Discourse is the core of the Church's belief, that by the tranformation of bread and wine into his Body and Blood, Christ becomes really and truly present in the Eucharist.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church #1376 states it this way - "The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring: "Because our Redeemer said that it was his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and propertly called transubstantiation."

Today’s Gospel concludes the Bread of Life Discourse with Peter’s response to Jesus’ earlier question “Do you also want to leave?” (John 6:67)  It is a question that Jesus asks each one of us.  An invitation actually, to decide whether or not we will believe in the one God sent, (John 6:29) so as to never hunger or thirst again, (John 35) and to eat his flesh and drink his blood in order to have eternal life, for his flesh is true food and his blood is true drink. (John 6:53-56)
 What will be our answer?  Will we answer as Peter did, “Master, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”  (John 6:68-69)

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