Reflection – April 24, 2015
Robert Kloska ’90
Sometimes our familiarity with the story and teachings of Christ can inoculate us against the absolutely shocking nature of some of his claims. This Gospel passage is an example of commonly-known statements made by Jesus that are actually incredible and astonishing! Can you imagine being present and hearing them for the first time?
“Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my Flesh is true food, and my Blood is true drink.”
John tells us that the Jews quarreled because at least some of them seemed to believe that he was making a statement that he meant to be taken literally. How could that be?
When Jesus is misunderstood in other situations in the Gospels, he simply explains himself better. He frequently breaks his parables down into very simple parts. But here, Jesus does something different. Rather than explain that his words were meant only symbolically or that he was just using a figure of speech, Jesus seems to drive home the literal meaning of his words. “My Flesh is true food, and my Blood is true drink.”
Previously in this chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus multiplied the loaves and fish. By doing so he established his authority over food. A bit later, he walked on water. By doing this, he established his authority over his own body. John situates these two events immediately before one of the most difficult teachings of Jesus: his real presence in the holy Eucharist.
In clarifying his words, Jesus doesn’t backpedal—in fact, he insists on it even in the face of great controversy. Belief in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist is central to our Catholic faith, but it is a deep mystery, an odd mystery, a beautiful mystery.
Let us all pray for greater faith when we confront the wonderful mystery of the holy Eucharist.