"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."
Nourishment provides strength and the ability to survive and thrive. In the ancient Jewish and Christian biblical traditions, bread along with water, wine, and olive oil were the actual and metaphorical images for sustenance for a thriving life. Twice in the Elijah narrative (including today’s), and frequently in the four Gospel narratives, bread becomes the metaphorical image for the source of life.Jesus had been using the metaphor of bread in the earlier verses in the narrative of John 6.
He had provoked some in his audience both by claiming an unusual closeness to God and because they perceived him as behaving (by preaching) above his station. They believed their familiarity with him (“Do we not know his father and mother?”) was a sort of cultural power over him, a power by which they could keep him humble, and at their religious level. Jesus, however, described himself as having come from Heaven, which really meant, from God.
This chapter is very Eucharistic in a very sophisticated manner. It does not lend itself to a literalist interpretation. The first principle employed here is the very Mystery of God, including the distinction of divine Persons, and the intimacy among them. The early Church evolved and grew in its understanding and appreciation of God’s Mysterious Reality. John’s 6th Chapter is a magnificent, even if somewhat obscure, literary articulation of the mystery of God’s Presence. It also harkens to the future in Jesus’ words about “...the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”
Our modern Eucharistic Theology demands that we appreciate the Real Presence of God as much more than a simplistic use of the Risen Christ “in” the bread and wine. Rather, Christ’s presence is first in the Assembly of the Baptized Believers (“whoever believes has eternal life”). Second, the Real Presence of Christ is in the proclaimed Word of God in the actions of the lectors, deacon and priest at liturgy. The complementary action of the Assembly’s hearing the proclaimed Word is another aspect of Christ being effectively present in the liturgical assembly. Finally, of course, Christ’s Real Presence is in the sacred elements of the consecrated bread and wine (and in each of the other Sacraments).
But, the reception of Christ in holy communion is meaningful in healthy and balanced manner only in relation to the Gospel fellowship of the liturgical assembly and with the proclamation of Sacred Scripture. “Full, conscious, and active participation” are essential and necessary disposition for each believer who “listens to my Father and learns from him.
We must remember that we become the real presence of Christ in the world to the others that we come into contact with.
Valentine Faith Community
Mass: 10AM Every Sunday
2670 Chandler Avenue
Suite 7 & 8
Las Vegas, NV 89120
702-523-8963 Rev Sue Provost, Pastor
"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. " (1 John 4:9-10)