Homily for the twentieth Sunday of the year - Year B - Jn. 6:51-58
Father Daniel Meynen
" Jesus said: 'I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.'
" The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, 'How can this man give us his flesh to eat?' So Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever.' "
" So Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.' "
Continuing his teaching on the bread of life, Jesus explains in very clear terms what he had said, responding to the growing opposition of certain Jews who did not understand - for they did not believe - how Christ could give his flesh and blood for us to eat. Jesus argued using a negative argument which, in dialectics, is stronger than the positive. So he said: " Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you." This argument is categorical and reinforces the positive argument stated several times by the Master: "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life."
If someone who remains faithful to the grace of his baptism can aspire to inherit eternal life, it is never without having had at least the desire for the Holy Eucharist received in communion. Indeed, baptism and the other sacraments are ordered to the Eucharist and have no other goal than to prepare us to receive this very great Sacrament, the one that allows us to participate in the life of God himself. If, therefore, we have been baptized, and then confirmed, and are now fully conscious of this, we have not yet done anything to obtain eternal life if we do not desire with all our heart to receive the Holy Eucharist and if we do not do all we can to truly receive it, with all the worthiness that befits the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ.
" As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me."
In this verse of Holy Scripture, in these few words of Jesus, we find a synthesis of all of Christian life from its beginning to that Day of eternity when Christ will resurrect our bodies to eternal life. All of Christian life is rooted in the Trinitarian life, in that life that has neither beginning nor end and that can only be expressed through itself, that is, through the Word of God in person. All of Christian life consists in participating in this Trinitarian life, reproducing it under a human form throughout our life. This is what the comparison made by Christ is meant to express: Christian life, that of Christ and of the Church, is comparable to the Trinitarian life, that of the Father and of the Son in the Holy Spirit.
But this is a Christian life nourished by holy communion, a Christian life lived in the love of God and of our neighbor, a Christian life that is not limited to the reception of baptism, but which extends to the reception of the Body and Blood of Christ in a worthy and holy manner! In light of the comparison made with Trinitarian life, Christian life is therefore a life of supernatural communion, a life that must surpass the limits of our own person, a life of union with God that must lead to unity among all Christians, as well as to unity among all of mankind, to the extent that this is possible!
" He who eats this bread will live for ever."
Once again, Jesus tells us: eternal life is in the Eucharist! So let us prepare our heart and all our soul for the reception of this great Sacrament! Let us ask Mary to give us her heart and all her love in order that we might worthily receive the Body of her Son! May today's communion truly give us the eternal life that is in God, and may it thus bring us salvation! May our communion be for everyone a source of unity and peace!