IF ANY ONE EATS OF THIS BREAD, HE WILL LIVE FOR EVER
(A biblical refection on THE 20th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME [YEAR B], 19 August 2018)
Gospel Reading: John 6:51-58
First Reading: Proverbs 9:1-6; Psalms: Psalm 34:2-3,10-15; Second Reading: Ephesians 5:15-20
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)
In today’s Gospel, Jesus promises that whoever eats His flesh and drinks His blood will have eternal life. Most Christians believe that when Jesus spoke these words He was referring to the bread and wine we use in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper (Eucharist).
We’ll probably never know why Jesus chose bread instead of a lamb, a goat, or some other food or why He chose wine instead of milk, water, or some other liquid. What we do know is that bread and wine became powerful symbols of the Christian community.
Just as we grind many grains of wheat to make bread and press many grapes to make wine, many people come together to make up the Church. When we bring the bread and the wine to the altar, what we are offering is not just bread and wine but all those who have been baptized into God’s family.
The bread and the wine also symbolize our own personal gifts to God. Anyone who baked bread in the days before food processors became popular knows that kneading dough calls for a lot of muscle. Therefore, bread is symbolic of hard work and when we bring our bread to God we offer Him all the effort and all the sweat of our labors.
Wine is a symbol of joy because we often drink it at parties and on special occasions. When we bring our gift of wine to the altar, we offer God all the good times of our life and we invite Him to become part of those good times.
Jesus is interested not only in our problems but also in our joys. The next time something good happens to us (you and I), why don’t we bring that event to Jesus in prayer and tell Him how we feel about it just as we would share that same news with a friend. Jesus really does care.
(Adapted from Jerome J. Sabatowich, Cycling Through the Gospels – Gospel Commentaries for Cycles A, B, and C, pages 196-197.)
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, 19 August 2018
A Christian Pilgrim