For my Flesh is true food, and my Blood is true drink.

The sixth chapter of John’s Gospel is called the “Bread of Life Discourse” for good reason. Jesus emphasizes again and again that he is the Bread come down from heaven (6:51), that his Body and Blood are true food and drink (6:55), and that whoever eats his Body and drinks his Blood will live forever (6:54, 58). In fact, in almost every sentence of today’s reading, Jesus uses the word eat.

It’s easy to understand why the Jews would have been uneasy. The idea of eating Jesus’ flesh was shocking. Surely, they said to one another, he couldn’t possibly be serious! He must mean something different. But Jesus didn’t back off of his startling claims. In fact, he doubled down on them. At first, the word Jesus used is translated simply as “eat,” which some might think was just a metaphor for believing in him. But as the conversation continued, he used a stronger word. He said, “The one who feeds on me will have life because of me” (John 6:57). Scholars tell us that the word in this verse can also be translated as gnaw or chew on.

Now, the idea of eating a sacrifice wouldn’t have been so outlandish to the Jews. They would have thought about the sacrificial lamb that each family ate at their Passover meal. And that’s part of what Jesus was pointing to. He would offer himself on the cross as a sacrifice—and he would then invite us to eat his Body and drink his Blood as we celebrate the new Passover.

Every time we celebrate Mass, we are brought before this eternal sacrifice of Jesus’ Body and Blood. We celebrate the new covenant he has entered into with us on the cross, and we embrace that covenant every time we eat and drink of him. Taking his Body and Blood into our own bodies, we unite ourselves with him in a deep and intimate bond.

It was probably hard for Jesus’ audience to grasp this mysterious gift he was offering them. We may find it a little challenging as well. But we can ask Jesus to help us accept this precious gift for what it is. We can give him thanks for becoming the sacrifice that brings us eternal life!

“Thank you, Lord, for offering us your own flesh as the Bread of Life!”

Acts 9:1-20
Psalm 117:1-2
John 6:52-59


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