THE LIVING BREAD WHICH CAME DOWN FROM HEAVEN
(A biblical refection on THE 20TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – August 19, 2012)
Gospel Reading: John 6:51-58
First Reading: Prov 9:1-6; Psalms: Ps 34:2-3,10-15; Second Reading: Eph 5:15-20
I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall 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, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, you have no life in you; he who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever.” (Jn 6:51-58 RSV)
“He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him” (Jn 6:56)
It really sounds inviting to be able to “abide” in Christ! The Greek word for abide in this passage has connotations of dwelling, remaining, and enduring, all of which point to Jesus’ desire to have a close relationship with us.
At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus drew the apostles to Himself with words: “Come and see,” and John tells us: “They came and … stayed with Him that day (Jn 1:39). Throughout their time with Him, they learned about the Father’s enduring love and the life of faith He was calling them to. They experienced forgiveness of sins, healings, powerful miracles, and godly teaching with authority. Friendship with Jesus was like no other relationship they had ever known.
However, how could this close relationship continue after He returned to the Father? Jesus gave the answer – the Eucharist. In the gift of His body and blood, we hear Jesus saying: “Yes, come and stay with Me. I abide in you; come and abide in Me.”
By the power of the Spirit, God has prepared a special place in each of us where Jesus dwells. As we take time to rest with Him and learn from Him, we meet Jesus and we are refreshed. As we continue resting in Him, we are moved to surrender all to Him – our lives, our concerns, all of our circumstances – and we open our hearts to Him. In the intimacy of the moment, we may feel like God is holding us close like beloved children, writing His truths deep within us.
Those who learn to remain in Jesus’ presence know the promise of eternal life (Jn 6:51,58). This promise can fill us with hope and trust in God as He gives us a taste of His joy and the strength to endure the trials that are a normal part of life in this world. Let us prepare ourselves for Jesus. He will remain in us as often as we receive Him.
Short Prayer: Lord Jesus, as we receive You in the Eucharist today, help us to open our hearts to You. Teach us to abide in You, and show us how fully You abide in us. Thank You, Lord Jesus. Amen.
Jakarta, 17 August 2012
A Christian Pilgrim