I am the living bread God sent from down from heaven.
If someone eats this bread, he will live forever. The bread I will give is my flesh. I give it so the world might really live! … If you don’t eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, you’re not really alive. – Jn 6:51, 53
Jesus’ act of feeding is the ultimate act of his care, truthfulness, and affection for you and me in this earthly life and in eternal life. In John chapter 6, Jesus challenged us to consider the bread we eat, the perishable bread or the living bread that came down from heaven. We either eat or drink our way to life or death. To really live forever, we need to feed on Jesus, the living bread. However, the domestication of the Sacrament is a major cause of the ineffectiveness of the healing, uniting, and renewing power in Jesus. Lack of feeding on Jesus as the living bread points to the source of violence in the world and decline in the church today. The Gospel reading from John chapter 6 summons us to understand how grateful we should be as we cultivate an appreciation of the ‘scandal of Jesus’ words.’ The scandal of Jesus’ words with reference to his declaration “The bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh” points to his sacrifice on the cross for our sin. It was a scandal that unites true followers of Jesus Christ. The scandal of Jesus’ words shows us an example of how and where Jesus is misunderstood by his listeners and even today. Jesus’ words caused his listeners to dispute among themselves saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” The people misunderstood Jesus’ graphic claim ‘unless you eat My flesh … and drink My blood.’ Jesus presence not only causes scandal, the eternal life he offers through himself as the ONLY living bread can scandalise no less but it unites us as his true followers.
The divine life which Jesus provides originates in the living Father Who sent him, hence anyone who feeds on Jesus Christ will live because God’s divine nature is shared by Jesus, and imparted to anyone who by faith, feeds on Jesus. What you feed on determine what you say and the future you are preparing for. Like many today, Jesus’ audience took his words as a literal statement without a clear understanding of the admonition that unless we participate fully in Jesus Christ as the ONLY complete sacrifice for sin, we cannot realise the benefits of His salvation. The reflection is that our full acceptance of Jesus Christ as the ONLY living Bread will result in eternal life and the resurrection. After two thousand years, the scandal Jesus caused, the challenge he presented, still remains with us today. In an age with a culture that may treat Jesus Christ ‘with weak lip service or even condescending disdain,’ the truth is that Jesus lives and He is coming back again.
The scandal of Jesus’ words about eating flesh and drinking blood, the call to be born again among others are missional facts that unites his true followers. Jesus’ claim and statement “if you don’t eat…” could be offensive when interpreted through the language and imagery of cannibalism, however, the salvation point will be lost. The scandal of Jesus’ words that unites is to save the world from the present sorrow, disunity and horror, and from the past violence ‘when many of our ancestors have truly gnawed on human flesh and drank human blood.’ The scandal of Jesus’ words that unites believers summons us to see the horror from which communion with Jesus unites, saves, and heals. The scandal of Jesus’ words unites and separates his true followers from becoming part of any communion which is evil. The scandal of Jesus’ words invites us to see what Jesus has done on the cross and become part of it – a Communion of saints for love and healing of the world. Jesus Christ as the ONLY one with the word of eternal life is a scandal that unites the Church. It is a hard saying, hard to accept but true though many may not like the idea that they must identify with Jesus’ words and death in order to receive salvation and eternal life. The joy that it is the Holy Spirit who gives true life through Jesus words encourages us to not to allow or obey our mere human perspective and interpretation of the flesh.
Feeding on Jesus invites us to feed on the truth of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. The limitation of our wealth and spirituality, trying to create and possess the life we want may amount to best efforts with live less than fully alive. Nations, homes and churches are lamenting at what has become of us. The scandal of Jesus’words as a missional facts that unites, saves, and heals points to a diagnosis that there is no life in us and that the only treatment for our condition and food for our hunger is life in Jesus Christ. Jesus’ body and blood as the medicine that heals, unites, and saves calls us to a steady diet of this sacred medicine, the Word of God. What we eat determines the life we want and live. The scandal of Jesus’ words summons us to eat and digest Jesus’ life, his love, his mercy, his forgiveness, his holiness and peace. We either eat or drink our way to life or death. Arise and let us eat the living bread anew. God is saying to someone, stop feeding on your fears, feed on Jesus. Remember, what you feed will grow.