Joshua 24:1-2,15-17,18; Ps 34 Taste and see the goodness of the Lord; Ephesians 5:21-32; John 6:60-69
"Many disciples who were listening said, "This saying is hard; who can accept it."
What is the saying that is so hard? Jesus said, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just a the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me."
This is a hard saying; who can accept it.
"Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, "Does this shock you? What f you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life."
"as a result of this many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him."
Notice it is the disciples that walk away. These are folks who have been intimate with Jesus. They have followed him. They have witnessed the signs and the miracles. They have eaten with him and journeyed with him. These are not strangers. These are companions. Yet, they walk away.
From the beginning the Eucharist has been divisive. The Eucharist is the line in the sand. It has become that teaching that separates who we want God to be and how we want God to act from who God reveals himself to be and how he chooses to act.
These murmurs have run down from generation to generation down the centuries.
The bottom line is do we receive Jesus on his terms or do we keep wanting God to meet us on our terms!
The fact that many left Jesus reveals one of the saddest realities of all history. We want God to be great and far away; we want him to manifest himself according to our desires and our wishes. We do not want him so near as food. We do not want him small and humbling himself as he chooses to come to us in the Eucharist.
"Jesus then said to the twelve, "Do you also want to leave?"
Notice Jesus doesn't run after the disciples and say, hold on I think you misunderstood me. He didn't say that he was only speaking figuratively or metaphorically or symbolically as some would suggest. Jesus never softens his words but rather he intensifies them, "Do you also want to leave?"
At some point we have to accept that somethings we do not fully understand yet we hold onto them because Jesus is the one who gives them to us. As simon Peter points out below.
"Simon Peter answered him, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. W have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God."
Jesus' words are transformative because his word is the divine word spoken to us. How often do we see the word of God in action through Jesus transforming reality!
He speaks to the little girl who has died and she rises. He speaks to Lazarus from the grave and the dead man walks out. He speaks to the lame and they walk, the blind and they see. He speaks to the hemorrhaging woman and her sickness is dried up. He speaks over the five loaves and two fish and 5000 are fed. With a word he calms the storm and the sea.
Jesus' word has transformative power. He speaks over bread and wine at the last supper and they become his real presence to us on our journey: his flesh is true food and his blood is true drink.
What is going on here. Two words come to mind: Tran-substantiation and Tran-signification
Tran-signification: is that in which something takes on a change in meaning or a change in use. For example a piece of cloth becomes a national flag. It is a symbol of a nation. Because of its new meaning and use it affects a change in the people: we take our hat off and we salute it and cover our hand over your hearts when it is raised. It will be put in a museum and it will carry with it all the history of that period and time. It remains a cloth though its meaning is changed because people agree to its change and significance. The power and significance depends on the agreement of the people and the governing body. It is the people's acceptance that give it meaning. We give cloth as flag meaning because of our yes to it. If we no longer give acceptance to its meaning then it goes back to being a cloth.
Tran-substantiation-This is different than the above. Transubstantiation is what we use to describe the reality of the Eucharist, the bread and wine be transformed in to the real presence of Jesus in our midst. The Lord takes possession of the bread and wine; He lifts them up out of their normal existence into a new order that is profoundly different; Where the lord lays his hand something new comes about; transformation is real and total. This is not a mere change in use or change in meaning but a change in reality itself. The cloth that becomes a flag depends on functionality. The Eucharist is not a function. It does not depend on convention or agreement by the people in which we choose to accept or reject it. Our acceptance of it does not change its reality.
The Eucharist is because of God's yes regardless of our yes or no to what he gives.
This is the Eucharist Jesus lays out for us in John chapter 6.
Does this shock Us? Do we also want to leave? Jesus has drawn the line in the sand. Belief must bow to him. Belief is always directed toward what is most real. We may not understand it fully. But we have an obligation to receive it because of him who gives it.
The Eucharist is the tipping point for all believers.