Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jesus shares himself entirely with us by giving his life on the cross and his body and blood as our food and drink in the Eucharist.
Although Jesus’ Jewish hearers are shocked by his claim to be “bread that came down from heaven,” they would have been familiar with the idea God providing his people with spiritual nourishment. In the first reading, God’s Wisdom is personified as inviting whoever lacks understanding to “come, eat of my food, and drink of the wine I have mixed!” Jesus reveals himself not only as the embodiment of the divine wisdom through his teaching. He gives his own flesh for the life of the world. His hearers react with hostility, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” The Israelites were repulsed, as we are, by cannibalism and human sacrifice as both religiously and humanly abhorrent. Yet Jesus presses on: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.” The reference to drinking blood only makes matters worse. Jewish law strictly forbade eating animal flesh with the lifeblood still in it “for blood is life, and you shall not consume this seat of life with the flesh” (Deuteronomy 24.23). Yet Jesus says, “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.” We hear these words from our lifelong experience lifelong experience of receiving Jesus’ body and blood sacramentally under the appearances of bread and. Just imagine hearing those words without this sacramental experience. We to would probably be shocked as well. But through faith, we know that Jesus left us no greater testimony of his love than the banquet of the Eucharist. Having offered his own body as a sacrificial offering to make up for our sins, he also gives us his flesh and blood as true food and drink.
Parish Question for Reflection:
Although Jesus' words do not shock, do we really appreciate the extraordinary gift that is the Eucharist and how great a love for us it embodies?
May the Eucharist always be the center of our life as a parish and as individuals.