The utter realism of eating flesh and drinking blood was shocking to Jesus’ hearers, as it would be today if taken literally. (Imagine the shocked reaction if a chalice of blood was placed on a table next to a chalice of consecrated wine, simply to bring home the transformation.) Talk of flesh and blood is meant to shock and to bring home the realism of the full humanity of Jesus. John clearly understands these terms symbolically or sacramentally. The Johannine Jesus is truly a heavenly figure, come from above, returning to the Father possessing present supernatural knowledge, tripping lightly on earth, as commentators have noted. John became with some justification a favorite of later Gnostics, who denied the full humanity of Jesus. Here the shocking language and startled reaction of the audience serve as a challenge to believers to affirm the seemingly impossible. In receiving the Eucharist, our full humanity is joined with the full but transformed humanity of Jesus, and this constitutes life in its fullness that will never be taken away. Andre Dubus described this eloquently in Meditations From a Movable Chair: When the priest places the Host in the palm of my hand, I put in my mouth and taste and chew and swallow the intimacy of God.
·Read again John 6, reflecting on how these “words” of Jesus are Spirit and life.
·The one who believes already possesses “eternal life.” Think in prayer about how faith leads us to a fullness of life.
·Ask in prayer with Peter, “To whom shall we go?”