In 2021 we actually celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary this Sunday, but it seems important to complete this John 6 series.
There is no way for us earthly creatures to access the things of heaven; doing that is completely beyond our capabilities. A very poor analogy is that a cat cannot become a dog, no matter how hard it tries.
The only way for us earthly creatures to access the things of heaven is if citizens of heaven give them to us.
And Jesus is promising more than things of heaven, He is promising partaking in the divine life of God.
All through John 6 when Jesus says life, it is always a reference to ‘zoe’ life, eternally divine life, not to ‘bios’ life (physical life) nor to ‘psuche’ life (soul life).
He tells us that He is the living bread that descended from heaven, and that if anyone eats of this bread (of Him) then that person will live forever.
Why? Because divine life will then have become part of them, just like earthly food becomes part of us – as the saying goes ‘we are what we eat’.
Jesus then tells us ‘And this bread which I will give/offer for/on behalf of life of the world is My flesh (body)’.
The divine gift of this living bread will only be initiated through the passion and death of Jesus.
Only through His complete sacrifice of His body through His death can we be given this gift beyond all our comprehension.
At this point those listening to Jesus erupt in violent disputation.
He wants us to eat His flesh?
He wants us to cannibalize Him?
There are places in the bible where cannibalism is mentioned, corresponding to times of extreme desperation, usually as a result of famine and often in siege conditions. So being reduced to cannibalism was viewed as a horrible curse, and one of the worst punishments that God could give. It was also viewed as the physical horror that accompanies the spiritual horror of apostasy; two sides of the same coin.
To which Jesus responds ‘Amen, Amen, I tell you unless you eat (phagete) the flesh and drink (piete) the blood (haima) of the Son of Man, you have no life (zoen) in you’.
And did I mention that you need to drink My blood as well?
Otherwise you will not (as in never) have divine life in you.
Not only that! If you eat My flesh and drink My blood you will not only share in the divine life of God – but on the last day your physical bodies will be raised back to life as well.
Yes! I really mean you have to eat Me!
‘Whoever eats (trogon)
to gnaw/crunch/ grind with teeth/munch My flesh
and drinks (drink, imbibe) My blood has eternal life
and I will raise him/her up (anastesto) at the last/final day.
For My flesh is real/true (alethes) food/meal (brosis)
and My blood is real/true drink/beverage (posis)
Whoever eats (trogon) My flesh and drinks (pinon) My blood
remains (menei) abides/waits/stays in Me, and I in him.
Just as the living Father sent Me and I live because/through of the Father
so also who feeds on (trogon) Me will live because/through of Me.
This is the bread that came down/descended from heaven
Unlike your ancestors who ate (ephagon) and died (referring to the manna in the desert)
who eats (trogon) this bread will live (zesei) for ever.’
Yes! I really mean you have to eat Me!
There’s no other way for Me to give you My life, divine life, and bodily resurrection too!
In next week’s Gospel section we will see the various responses to these declarations of Jesus.
But He wants your response now.
Will you take Him at His word?
Will you remember the sign of the miracle of the feeding of the 5000, and trust in His word even if you can’t comprehend it?
Do you believe that He is the only Son of the Father, the only one who has descended from heaven, sent by the Father to give us eternal life?
Then you must eat Him; you must eat the flesh of Jesus and you must drink His blood.
His offer is free, but it definitely is not cheap.
He paid for it with His life on the Cross.
Likewise, our response is free, but it isn’t cheap.
It requires total commitment to Jesus; and giving Him the Lordship of our lives.
It also requires a total commitment to His body, the Church, and all that She teaches in His name and in His authority. Always we are saved ‘as a people’ and not as individuals.
That’s what it takes to eat His body and to drink His blood in the bread and wine consecrated at a Mass offered by a validly ordained priest.
Only the Roman Catholic church, in her Latin rite and her Eastern rites; and the various Orthodox churches (Greek, Russian, Coptic etc) have valid ordinations that trace back to the Apostles present at the Last Supper prior to the crucifixion and death of Jesus.
When a validly ordained priest takes the bread and uses the words of Jesus ‘This is My body’, and takes the wine and used the words of Jesus ‘This is My blood’, the bread and wine become the body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ.
We believe this because Jesus said so.
And that is enough for us.
Is it enough for you?
Your answer has consequences.
And the stakes are far too high (divine life, bodily resurrection, union with Jesus) for you to even consider avoid answering, or to even consider delaying your answer.
If the answer is Yes
*Then seeking membership of a church with valid ordination has to become top priority for you.
*If you already have membership through Baptism, but have lapsed from attendance at the Eucharist (Mass), then you have to rectify that pronto, which includes a good confession first.
*If you already have membership through Baptism, and have some kind of regularity of attendance at the Eucharist (Mass), is your current commitment commensurate with the enormity of the gift? Recommit yourself to Him, to the Eucharist, and to His church, and ask Jesus to show you how He wants you to express that recommitment in concrete action.