Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14b-16a; Psalm 147:12-15, 19-20; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17; John 6:51-58
First Reading: Deuteronomy presents its message in the form of a farewell discourse Moses gives to the people as they are about to enter the Promised Land. In today’s passage, Moses counsels the people to remember the mighty deeds that God has done on their behalf during their desert sojourn.
Psalm 147: Today’s psalm personifies Jerusalem as a mother gathering her children. All are summoned to praise the Lord in thanksgiving for his Word, which bring life and abundance.
Second Reading: In the second reading, Paul shares a significant aspect of his teaching, which concerns Christ and the community as the body of Christ.
Gospel: The context of these verses, in today’s Gospel, on Jesus as “the living bread that came down from heaven” is the Eucharistic celebration of the early Christian communities.
Reflection: Today’s Gospel passage follows upon much discussion between Jesus and the crowds about the bread of God that comes down from heaven and gives life. Before the beginning of this passage, Jesus has previously identified himself twice in “I am” statements as the bread of life and noted that people who eat this bread will never hunger and will not die.
Jesus is bread that is the living bread; this is all we need to “live forever.” The reasoning is simple enough: by partaking of Jesus’ Body and Blood we become what we eat – we become the “one body” (cf. today’s second reading) in which we all share. All this is good and inviting. This is the “Holy Communion” that assures us of who we are as baptized Christians – the Body of Christ. This is why Eucharist is (and remains throughout our life) a sacrament of initiation: we are constantly being fed on the Bread of Life and constantly drawn more deeply into being who we are – members of the one Body of Christ.
It is far too easy for us to file out of our pews or chairs into the Communion line, receive, return, leave after Mass is over, and get on with our lives. The food and drink that Jesus offers us in this memorial celebration requires of us conscious preparation, deliberate partaking, and ongoing savoring by how we live. Eucharist changes us to live more holy and self-giving lives. We can’t just put on a costume or cloak of being Jesus’ followers; sharing in the Body and Blood of Christ means that we share in Jesus’ life of self-giving. This means becoming more aware of others’ needs and responding to them; it means doing our everyday tasks well and out of love; it means being honest, just, and forgiving. Eternal life is the fruit of our transformation in Christ. We are to remain in him and are sent to be his presence in the world.
Question for reflection: What challenges prevent me from being Jesus’ Body and Blood in my discipleship?
Copyright © 2017, Scott W. Eakins. All Rights Reserved.