Gospel Jn 6:41-51
“This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
This is truly astounding. It is, perhaps, too much.
Jesus, a man known to those with whom he spoke, was saying the most preposterous things.
How is it that he could claim to have come down from heaven? Surely not! They knew Joseph and Mary, his parents.
These words spoken by Jesus have a mystical and mysterious quality. Not only is he ‘come down from heaven’, but he is ‘living bread’? His flesh is this bread?
What on earth can he mean?
Chapter six of John’s Gospel, from where this reading is taken, is among the most perplexing and unpopular teachings that Jesus gave.
Not only does he claim to be bread, he claims that this bread is far greater than the bread that God had given to Moses and the Israelites as they wandered through the desert because those who eat this bread will not die.
We might be inclined to think that the people of Jesus’ day were more inclined to believe in miracles than we are today in our own scientifically disenchanted era. Yet we are perhaps not so different from those who first witnessed this miracle. Despite the fact that the people in this story had just witnessed his feeding of the 5000 even they are still trapped in unbelief, failing to full recognise and give intellectual assent to what it is that he is saying.
We will read in the coming weeks Jesus’ continued teaching on this matter and the reaction that the majority of people had to him, but for now, let us reflect on our own openness to these words of Jesus.
Jesus elicits our freedom. He gives all the opportunities for those first hearing this message to receive it, and he gives us that same opportunity.
What does it mean for Jesus to say that his flesh is the bread come down from heaven, given for the life of the world? Is he crazy? Is he a liar? Or is he telling the truth?
Let us pray…
Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief. [Mk 9:24]