Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, 19th August

John 6:51–58
Jesus said, “I 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.” The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So 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. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 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.”
Continuing from the gospel reading of last Sunday, in which Jesus stressed the necessity of unquestioning faith in him as the one come down from heaven and as the one who had seen the Father, we hear today Jesus openly speaks of the great miracle of the Eucharist that he will give his followers his fresh and blood as their spiritual food and drink. In today’s gospel, we can how the Jews, who listened to him, reacted and how Jesus simply went on to repeat and emphasized the statement already made.
At the beginning of today’s gospel, Jesus reiterated that he has come from heaven and that he is life. More than the fact that he is life, Jesus pointed out that he is life-giving. The bread from heaven will give eternal life. This implied that ordinary bread gives only temporal life. Note Jesus used future tense to tell the Jews that the bread which he will give for life of the world is his flesh. This means that he is going to offer up himself for the life of the world so as to provide eternal life for all men. This bread is Jesus’ own body offered in sacrifice for the eternal life of men.
However, the Jews understood him to be speaking literally. In such an understanding, they could not make any sense out of it. In other words, they were not yet able to grasp the full truth of his saying. They asked, “How could this man give us his flesh to eat?”
Jesus simply ignored their question but repeated what he had said. That is they must partake of his body if they wish to have true life in them. Also, he added, those who have partaken of his life-giving bread will be raised from the dead and enter eternal life on the Judgment Day.
Jesus used his intimate union with the Father to illustrate the importance of this kind of partaking. Thus, he continued to tell the crowd that their intimate union with Jesus will be the effect of partaking his sacrificed body.
Jesus pointed out that his human life is from the Father and he has divine existence in common with the Father. What is more, he said, is that this common life of the Father and Son will bthat moved Christ e shared by all those who partake of Christ in the Eucharist.
At the end of today’s gospel, Jesus repeated the real difference between the food he is going to give and the food given to the Israelites in the desert. He emphasized again that those who partake of the new manna, the Eucharist, will be assured of eternal life, after life on earth ends.
Like the Jews of Jesus’ time, the Blessed Eucharist is a mystery in so far as our mind cannot understand how exactly Christ is present on our altars after the words of consecration, the very words given us by Christ himself have been said over the bread and wine. However, the biggest mystery about the Blessed Eucharist is the mystery of the divine love that moved Christ to leave us such an intimate and such an effective memorial of the love he proved to have for us in Calvary. We certainly do not deserve this love. But the infinite love Christ for us is the only explanation of this mystery of the Bless Eucharist. Amen.