Meditation on John 6
“And Jesus said to them…’unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood shall have eternal life, and I shall raise him up in the last day’…and many of His disciples came to Him, saying, ‘this is a hard saying; who can understand it?’…from that time, many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.”
Jesus’ disciples took His teaching concerning the Eucharist to be a hard teaching to comprehend. Scripture tells us, in fact, that many of His disciples walked away from Him because of this teaching. Unfortunately, to this day, there are still many who reject this teaching. They reject the very words of Jesus Himself, as recorded in Holy Scripture, concerning the sacramental eating of the body and blood of Christ. Because the depths of this great mystery can never be understood by human logic, they attempt to explain it logically. They attempt to interpret and misrepresent the words of Jesus metaphorically. They teach that it is merely symbolic; that the elements represent His sacrifice. They remove the working of the Holy Spirit from the mystery, thereby removing the mystery itself. And, regretfully, when they do this, they reject both the teaching of Holy Scripture and the unanimous teaching of the Church throughout history. Consider that even Martin Luther, who adamantly opposed all concept of tradition, still affirmed the actual presence of the body and blood of Christ during the Eucharist.
We receive the grace of Christ’s sacrificial offering when we come to Him in faith and commune with Him in faith. In communion, we truly partake of His flesh, “This is my body, which is broken for you for the forgiveness of sins,” and of His blood, “This is the blood of the New Covenant, which is shed for you, for the remission of sins.” When we partake of this great sacrament, which grants the faithful eternal life (verse 54), we become one with Christ, with Him abiding in us and we in Him (Verse 56). When we reject this mystery, because it is a “hard teaching” which can not be understood in our own logic, then we become as the disciples who “went away and followed Him no more.”
He asks the disciples, concerning this teaching that to attain eternal life one must eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man, “does this offend you” and warns, “there are some of you who do not believe. Scripture goes on to state that Jesus knew who amongst them would not believe and would betray Him. Consider the fact that Scripture equates those who do not believe in His teachings with betrayal. See, when we reject the teachings of Jesus because of human wisdom, we are betraying Him.
I have often heard the statement that the opposite of faith is not atheism, it is doubt. And doubt is one of the greatest weapons that Satan has ever used against the Church. Direct sin, scandal, disbelief; each of these is ineffective in their blatantness. To tell the children of God not to commune with the Lord would be rejected as blatant blasphemy; however, to subtly plant the seeds of doubt that the Holy Spirit is present, the Jesus is actually present in the Eucharist; to ultimately remove the faith in the true mystery in which we are partaking, would remove the sacramental value of the mystery itself. It is those who approach the Lord in faith who Jesus states are granted eternal life, not those who “betray Him” through their unbelief. Merely by planting the seeds of doubt, the enemy could succeed in what two thousand years of persecution and execution could never do, removing the faith of men. Persecution and execution, trials and suffering, each of these strengthen the faith of men; seeds of doubt planted and watered with the corrupted water of human wisdom, these become acid which weaken and can ultimately dissolve that faith.
May the grace of the Lord be with you, my beloved family. Christ is in our midst!