In this Gospel, I look at Jesus here, hemmed in on all sides by quarreling and questioning from the crowd and from his own followers. I think Jesus must have been acutely aware of the gaze of the crowd, who had pinned their hopes on him and his teaching. Now they watch with disappointment, confusion, and doubt as Jesus repeats in so many different ways that his own flesh and blood are to be eaten, and that whoever eats Jesus’ flesh and blood will live forever.
This is a meditation on this Gospel from one of my sisters:
“. . . the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world. . . ”
In this discourse, Jesus could not have been any clearer. He gives the people the gift of absolute truth, so that they can decide for themselves once and for all who Jesus really is. They can decide what he and his teachings mean for them, and in what way their lives would change from this moment onward. I try to feel what the people felt when they heard Jesus’ words, especially that word that he repeated in various ways and that they picked up so quickly: “whoever.” This food that he is—his body and blood—is a blessing and grace for everyone. It is not reserved for the literati or the righteous paragons of temple observance.
The food that Jesus will give is food for all, food that comes down from heaven and brings eternal life. Jesus offers a food from heaven that will never run out, accompanying believers through and beyond human history to the kingdom of God, which will never end.
If you have enjoyed this meditation, you’ll find meditations on all the Gospels of Ordinary Time in: Ordinary Grace Weeks 18-34