“Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.” — John 6:57
Whenever I read passages of Jesus talking about bread and wine I automatically think of Holy Communion. For that matter, anytime I read a passage where Jesus shares a meal with people, I think of Holy Communion. Of course, in the Gospel of John, the narrative of the Last Supper focuses on Jesus washing the feet of the disciples and does not include the breaking of the bread and sharing of the cup.This reminder of Jesus’ humble humanity is fascinating in conjuction with this week’s reading. John is sometimes accused of painting and excessively divine portrait of Jesus and playing down his humanity. Yet, in this book we read about Jesus humble leadership through foot washing at the Last Supper. And in this week’s reading we hear Jesus talking about his ‘flesh and blood.’ Certainly this is no ordinary flesh and blood, since it is for the sustenance of the world, but it would be a mistake to ignore Jesus pronouncement of his humanity in this passage.
The passage can be confusing on a first reading. Is Jesus calling us to be cannibals? Hopefully we recognize that this cannot be the case, if only for the simple fact that Jesus’ earthly body would only suffice to feed a small number of cannibals, compared to his stated goal to offer himself to the entire world! So what is Jesus suggesting, even requiring, for eternal life? He is inviting his listeners to fully ingest everything he stands for and everything he is. This is about following Jesus’ teachings and life to such a degree that we become more and more like Jesus with us abiding in him and he abiding in us. Consuming not only Jesus’ teaching, but his very life and nature, so that we may share in the life he offers.
When we accept this invitation there are responsibilities that come along with it. If we partake of the flesh and blood, then like Jesus we must offer him to others and offer ourselves. Look for places this week to offer yourself to others without expecting anything in return.