Jesus, Who Means What He Says
21st Sunday Ordinary Time
August 22, 2021
The words of Jesus Christ in John chapter 6 are just as scandalous to hear today as they were when Jesus first said them 2000 years ago. Jesus, of course, uses many metaphors when describing himself, among them: I am “The Son of Man”, “The Light of the World”, “The Way the Truth and the Life”, “The Vine” and “The Door”.
But when Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life”, he was not just using another metaphor. He really meant what he said. To emphasize this, he repeats himself seven times, each time more emphatic than the last. Seven is the divine number: in the Bible, this number stands for perfection. Here are seven of the most scandalous phrases (from John chapter 6) that Jesus ever said:
“The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world”. “I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you”. “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day”. "For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink”. "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him”. "Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me”. "Whoever eats this bread will live forever”.
When we receive communion at Mass, we are not receiving a metaphor, although it may be convenient to think so. If this really is the Flesh and Blood of Jesus Christ, then how great is the importance of what I am doing when I receive the Body and Blood of Christ! What does it mean to consume Jesus Christ? For one thing, it means that Jesus Christ, the maker of all things, who is on an order of being far beyond anything we can imagine, is inviting us to his altar as a friend, something unimaginable to us now. With what reverence we should receive him! Each time I receive communion, let me tell Jesus that I love him; let me tell Jesus I'm sorry for my sins; if I have a serious sin, let me go to confession first; and having received him, let me go out and allow him to change my world, beginning with my own heart.