Monday, September 17, 2012

Eat My Flesh

Scripture John 6

51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world."

52 The Jews quarrelled among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?"

60 20 Then many of his disciples who were listening said, "This saying is hard; who can accept it?"

63 It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh 22 is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

66 As a result of this, many (of) his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.

67 Jesus then said to the Twelve, "Do you also want to leave?"


The pronouncement of Jesus being the bread of life, is a critical moment and a turning point in his public mission.

Jesus challenged his listeners by saying that “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.”

That shocking statement was intended, “to disenchant the crowds and especially to push his disciples to make a choice.

In truth many among them, from then, chose to no longer follow him.”

Pope Benedict

Today’s Gospel reading, from the conclusion of John 6, records how dissent from the teachings of Jesus took place in the very first century.

This, revealingly, is the only instance in the Gospels of disciples leaving Jesus over a matter of doctrine.

There is little doubt that St. John, in describing that tense scene, also had in mind Christians of the mid and late first century who struggled to accept the shocking words of the Lord.

It is sometimes tempting to think of the early Christians as a homogenous group of loyal heroes and willing martyrs.

But they, like those of us living in the twenty-first century, struggled with doubts, fears, and temptations.

Fr. James T. O’Connor

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