Proper 15 – Year B
1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14; Psalm 111: (or Proverbs 9:1-6; Psalm 34:9-14); Ephesians 5:15-20; John 6:51-58
“With bread and wine you can walk your road.” – Spanish Proverb
For the fourth Sunday in a row we are reading from the sixth chapter of John, his comments on the bread of life. There will even be more next week. For Jesus to ask his contemporaries to eat his flesh and drink his blood was a shocking request. Aside from the obvious allusion to cannibalism, Jews were strictly forbidden to drink blood, even of animals. Jesus did not just invite us all to reflect on this, or argue about this, or gaze at this. He bids us to “eat” this, munch on his flesh. (see Greek below) Thinking and fighting about and gazing at are what we sometimes do with the Eucharist, making it not so holy a communion. Maybe John has no Communion at the Last Supper because he did not want us to be stuck at the table. He wanted us to have the “real presence” of Jesus in our daily lives, out on the streets. God comes to us not only by sermons and bibles and prayers, but also by food. Because of all this talking about eating and drinking, tied in with the very person of Jesus, we can never again consume any food or drink without being aware that Jesus courses through our very bodies as we go about our daily lives from market to school, from playground to committee meeting. Even our liturgical celebration of the Eucharist has an awareness of this, attentive to the fact that we can’t just sit at the table all day. In many churches the final words of the service are the words of the dismissal: “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.” Or “Let us go forth into the world rejoicing in the power of the Spirit.” Or other such words. Even the title “Mass” comes from the dismissal in the Latin Rite: “Ite, Missa est.” It literally means “Go, it is sent.” In other words it says “Go, what you have received is sent into the world. And you are the carrier.” In our daily lives we not only eat, we feed others with eternal life. More on the spiritual level than the physical, we are what we eat. We are on the road. We have what we need: a little bread and wine, flesh and blood.
Four times in this passage (John 6:54, 56, 57, 58) we read of “eating” Jesus’ flesh. Almost all translations use the tame word “eat.” However the Greek word is not so tame. It literally means munch, gnaw, chew, or crunch.
Munch and gulp new life,
on the eternal roadway.
Come dine Holy Day.