(A biblical reflection on the Solemnity of THE BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST [Year A] – Sunday, 18 June 2017)
Gospel Reading: John 6:51-58
First Reading: Deuteronomy 8:2-3,14-16; Psalms: Psalm 147:12-15,19-20, Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 10:16-17
The Scripture Text
“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.” (John 6:51-58 RSV)
As the Jews wandered through the desert after escaping from Egypt they started grumbling because they did not have enough food to eat. God heard their complaint and provided them with bread from heaven, which they called manna.
God saved His people from starvation by feeding them much like a mother feeds her children with food they need to grow strong and healthy. Therefore, the Jews considered manna to be a symbol of God’s saving power and a sign of His great love for His people.
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus compares His body and blood in the Eucharist to the manna His Father gave the Jews in the desert. Jesus’ body and blood is special food from heaven which, like the manna, is evidence of God’s saving power and His great love.
Although Jesus’ body and blood and the manna are similar, they are not identical because those who ate the manna in the desert still died but those who eat Jesus’ body and drink His blood will have eternal life. Therefore, Jesus’ body and blood in the Eucharist is greater than the manna and is an even better expression of God’s saving power and love for His people.
Jesus promised those who eat His flesh and drink His blood will rise from their graves. This promise is the foundation for the Christian belief that at the end of the world we will rise from the dead just as Jesus rose from the tomb on Easter Sunday morning. Like Jesus’ resurrection, our own resurrection will be bodily and not just spiritual.
(Adapted from Jerome J. Sabatowich, Cycling Through the Gospels, pages 114-115.)
Short Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, You gave Your Church an admirable sacrament as the abiding memorial of Your passion. Teach us to worship the sacred mystery of Your Body and Blood, that its redeeming power may sanctify us always. We pray this in Your name, you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Jakarta, 16 June 2017
A Christian Pilgrim