Jesus said, “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.” John 6:56
your Son, Jesus Christ, gave himself as
living bread for the life of the world:
give us such a knowledge of his presence
that we may be strengthened and
sustained by his risen life
to serve you continually;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you in unity with
the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
- 1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-4
- Psalm 111
- Ephesians 5:11-21
- John 6:51-58
- 1 Kings 8:22-30, 41-43
- Psalm 84
- Ephesians 6:10-20
- John 6:56-69
A Thought to Ponder
Pentecost 12 – John 6:51-58
“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.”
Two dimensions of Jewish worship provide the context of today’s Gospel, the fourth part of the “bread of life” discourse in John 6.
When an animal was sacrificed on the temple altar, part of the meat was given to worshipers for a feast with family and friends at which God was honoured as the unseen “Guest.” It was even believed by some that God entered the flesh of the sacrificed animal, so that when people rose from the feast they believed they were literally “God-filled.”
In Jewish thought, blood was considered the vessel in which life was contained: as blood drained away from a body so did its life. The Jews, therefore, considered blood sacred, as belonging to God alone. In animal sacrifices, blood was ritually drained from the carcass and solemnly “sprinkled” upon the altar and the worshipers by the priest as a sign of being touched directly by the “life” of God.
With this understanding, then, John summarises his theology of the Eucharist, the new Passover banquet (remember John’s Last Supper account will centre around ‘the washing of the feet’, the theology of servanthood, rather than the blessing and breaking of the bread and the sharing of the cup). To feast on Jesus the “bread” is to “feast” on the very life of God – to consume the Eucharist is to be consumed by God.
In inviting us “to feed on his flesh and drink of my blood,” Jesus invites us to embrace the life of his Father: the life that finds joy in humble servanthood to others; the life that is centred in unconditional, total, sacrificial love; the life that seeks fulfillment not in the standards of this world but in the treasures of the next.
In calling himself the “Bread of Life,” Jesus is talking about much more than food — he’s talking about our self-centredness and the many forms it takes that has so disordered our world: avarice, greed, bigotry, arrogance.
In the “bread” of the Eucharist, Jesus shows us how to distinguish the values of God from the values of the marketplace; he instructs us on how to respond to the pressures and challenges of the world with justice and selflessness; he teaches us how to overcome our fears and doubts to become the people of compassion, reconciliation, and hope that God created us to be.
In the “bread” he gives us to eat, we become the body of Christ with and for one another; in his “blood” that he gives us to drink, his life of compassion, justice, and selflessness flows within us, and we become what we have received: the sacrament of unity, peace, and reconciliation.
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You can read the Pew Sheet herePentecost-12-B