Our Easter lectionary readings moved us through Christ’s Resurrection, Ascension, and the Descent of the Holy Spirit. Last Sunday, we celebrated the Most Holy Trinity, because we understood, from all that history, that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; from the beginning, all Three Persons have lovingly worked to restore us to the life for which we were designed. We might, therefore, conclude that the history is now liturgically complete. Yet today, the Church calls us to another solemnity. In our readings, we are pondering the mystery of the Most Holy Body and Blood of our Lord in the Eucharist. This meal raises a question: If we now have the Holy Spirit to put God’s life in us, why do we need to “eat the Body” and “drink the Blood” of Christ? What does that accomplish that the gift of the Holy Spirit doesn’t?
Our Gospel reading begins midway through a long conversation Jesus had with people who tracked Him down after His miraculous feeding of the five thousand (Jn 6:25-50). They were looking for more bread, but Jesus used their physical hunger to direct their thoughts to another kind of bread: “For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world” (Jn 6:33). It worked: “They said to Him, ‘Lord, give us this bread always’” (Jn 6:34).
Seeing they were interested, Jesus explained that He is the bread of life, and He called the Jews to believe in Him. In this part of the discussion, Jesus used imagery of bread and drink metaphorically: “he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall not thirst” (Jn 6:35). When the Jews began to murmur at the suggestion that Jesus is bread from heaven (“Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?”), He emphasized again that believing in Him is the source of eternal life: “Truly, truly I say to you, he who believes has eternal life” (Jn 6:47).Read More »