Thursday of the Third Week of Easter
(Acts 8:26-40; John 6:44-51)
At a meeting a priest once shocked his colleagues by declaring that he had murdered a fellow priest. Of course, his words were given immediate attention. He said that he had repeatedly covered for the dead priest when he was drinking all night so that he could not say morning mass. When the priest died of alcoholic-related complications, the enabler-priest felt responsible. In today’s gospel Jesus shocks the Jews with similarly descriptive language.
Jesus has already said that he is the bread of life. He meant that the teaching he received from the Father and passes on to the people must be believed if they are to have the fullness of life. Now he takes the analogy a step farther. He says that the bread which he gives is his “Flesh.” He uses such strong language because his message departs from the world’s in dramatic ways. Where the world exhorts people to maximize pleasure, Jesus teaches self-sacrifice as the way to eternal life. He will indicate that his Flesh is incorporated in the Eucharistic bread which is to be actually eaten. But he does not mean that one can profit from tasting it without believing in him.
We too should be shocked out of complacency with Jesus’ words. We have been accustomed to think of success as becoming rich and to envy those who attract attention by their beauty. Taking to heart Jesus’ words, we will reconsider these values. We will come to emulate the humble who care for others while praising God.