Friday, November 4, 2011
Blog # 204 John Chapter 6 - 5
Blog # 204 John Chapter 6 - 5 If you wanted to know something of what it felt like to land in France as an American soldier on D-Day back in 1944, would you rather ask someone who was actually there or use a commentary on the original statement that is in contradiction to the original ? The answer to that question comes rather easily for me. In something far more important and consequential it would seem we would want to act in the same way. To find out what Jesus actually said and intended in the incidences of Chapter Six of John, an eye witness, it would seem we would go back as far as we could to John himself and to those to whom he wrote and those who lived at that time and gave their lives in witness to their faith the Gospel message of God's love. They had the same faith as we Catholics profess today in the Special Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Only later, by some fifteen hundred years, did someone come up with a different plan to make Flesh and Blood a mere symbol, a memory, bread and grape juice. "This is My Body , given for you...This is My Blood, poured out for you...Do THIS..." is what Jesus said. Recall John's stated purpose in writing his Gospel: "...that through faith you may have life in His name." ( Jn 20:31)."I myself am the living bread come down from Heaven. If anyone eats this bread he shall live forever; the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world." Some nineteen hundred years later we Catholics are in danger of taking these words of Jesus for granted as applying to the Blessed Sacrament, the Real Presence of Jesus in Holy Communion and in the tabernacle. To the extent this is true, our taking the words for granted, we are not challenged, confused, shaken up or significantly changed by these words of Jesus given in the sixth Chapter of John. But if we transport ourselves back to the time they were first spoken by Jesus and first recorded by John, and place ourselves among the people who were hearing them for the first time, the picture changes. We ask ourselves what could these words of Jesus possibly mean, what they have to do with my relationship to God and Jesus and to the world and the people around me. We begin to get the feel of what it was to wonder what Jesus was saying to us, to know it was something important to Him and to us, but yet not to feel comfortable with the words or confident that we heard and understood them correctly. These were the same feelings of the people and even possibly of John when Jesus spoke them for the first time. As a result they were challenged by them. Some argue with Jesus and question His authority to speak them in the name of God. The discussion continues. Jesus does not back away from the point He has tried to make and the truth He has tried to share. He presses it again and again. "The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world. There is something God wants to say to us today, through John, that God wanted to say to the people for whom John wrote in the beginning. In Chapter Six we are dealing with an important incident in the life of Jesus and in the retelling of that life by John. It is a crisis for Jesus and His disciples. At the Chapter's end large numbers of the people will desert Jesus precisely because of this incident. In our next blog in this series we will consider something of what we mean when we say we believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.