“How does it work?” The question is very modern. We are able to ask the question because we live in the modern age, in which discovery after discovery enables us to ask and to expect to receive an answer. After all, what is Google for? Those who listened to Jesus, those who much later heard John’s Gospel read, those contemplating the sacraments to this day, ask, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? The Church has divided on this question.
Jesus had fed the 5,000, and then, according to John’s Gospel, compared that feeding with how God fed the Jews as they wandered through the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land. God saved his people from starvation, but not from death. Jesus claims that he will feed those who follow him, and that his followers will never die. It was only in the 16th century that doubt was expressed whether John 6 was about the Eucharist, and that doubt stemmed from arguments about how Jesus was present in the bread and wine at Holy Communion. How can this man give us his flesh to eat? How does it work?
The real question is this: How, by offering his body and blood, his life for us, does Jesus offer his life to us? Christ has died. Upon this response depends our faith and our hope. On the Cross Jesus surrendered his life for us. As we live in him and he in us, we too are drawn into that offering. “You have died, and your life is hid in Christ with God” (Col. 3:3). Christ is risen, and through baptism we too have been raised to new life, a life that is eternal. Christ will come again, “and his kingdom shall have no end.” The Eucharist draws us to a renewed faith in all that Christ is, has done, and will do for his people, as we are offered in him to the Father. “Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”
Almighty God, you have given your only Son to be for us a sacrifice for sin, and also an example of godly life: Give us grace to receive thankfully the fruits of his redeeming work, and to follow daily in the blessed steps of his most holy life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Look It Up
Read John 6
Think About It
Meditate on these words: “That we may dwell in him and he in us.”