Commentary on the Gospel of
The discourse on the Bread of Life continues…
The dogma of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist is a difficult pill to swallow for many people. “How could this be?” they ask. There is only one answer: Because Jesus said so. At the Last Supper, taking the bread Jesus did not say “This is like my body.” Rather, he said, “This is my body.” Taking the cup, Jesus did not say, “This is like my blood.” Rather, he said, “This is my blood.” (cf. Matt 26: 26-28; Luke 22: 19-20; Mark 14:22-24; 1 Cor 11: 23-26). Neither similes nor metaphors. A simple and direct affirmation of what is.
The Eucharistic Discourse in John 6 is yet another unambiguous statement from Jesus. For the Jews, eating flesh mingled with blood was an unthinkable abomination. It is to them that Jesus declares that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood. When they took offence, he could have explained to them that it was merely a metaphor. But what does he do? He reaffirms his stance. Bishop Robert Barron observes that the word Jesus uses for eating his flesh “actually refers to an animalistic mode of eating—gnawing at flesh” (Catholicism Series). Jesus would have smiled in approval at Flannery O’ Connor’s famous snub to Mary McCarthy’s comment that the Eucharist was just a pretty good symbol: “Well, if it’s a symbol, then to hell with it.”
(Note: This reflection is a revised and updated version of the author’s own reflection for the same readings in the Bible Diary 2013 [Claretian Publications]. All rights reserved. He may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org)