“I AM THE LIVING BREAD… AND THE BREAD WHICH I SHALL GIVE FOR THE LIFE OF THE WORLD IS MY FLESH” (John 6:51)
2 Kings 19:4-8; Ps 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9 (R.v.9a); Eph 4:30 – 5:2; John 6:41-51
Last Sunday, when we began our reflection on Jesus, the bread of life, we noted that “the bread is first of all, the Word of God (cf. John 1:1)”. That reference to the Word of God should not be misconstrued to mean the mere spoken word; that is, if one makes effort to consider it from the point of view of John 1:1. It means the totality of the person of Jesus.
Hence, it will not be equivocal to also hear Jesus today saying that the bread that that bread is his flesh. There is no contradiction between the spoken word and the flesh. Both of them join to form the single body of Christ. That is why we have both the liturgy of the Word and the liturgy of the Eucharist joined to form one sacrifice of the Holy Mass.
Having said that, our focus for today is on the Eucharist as the food for the journey. Our Catechism defines the Holy Eucharist as “the sacrament of the true body and blood of Jesus Christ, together with his soul and divinity, under the appearances of bread and wine”. One other name by which the Eucharist is called is the Viaticum – a Latin word that describes the Eucharist as the food for the journey.
The experience of Elijah in the first reading wonderfully explains to us the necessity of that food. Elijah had already received the word of the Lord at various times (cf. 1 Kings 17:2, 8; 18:1) and had put it to work as the Lord had commanded. After his encounter with the prophets of Baal, Jezebel threatened to kill him. This is why Elijah fled the land to meet the Lord on Mount Horeb.
The journey proved difficult for him and he lacked the strength to continue. His destination was the Mount of Horeb but he had to stop under a broom tree on his way, praying to die (1 Kings 19:4-5). He needed a life-giving food to continue, otherwise, death would be the only option. But God would not allow him to die; an angel was sent to him to bring him the food from heaven, and so was able to reach the Mount of the Lord (cf. 1 Kings 19:5-8).
As Christians, we are equally on a journey of faith, and our destination is heaven, the ideal Mount of the Lord. To be able to reach the top of that mountain, we too need the food from heaven. In our case, we are even more privileged than Elijah because Jesus himself is that from heaven.
Note that NOT FEEDING of this food is NOT an option (cf. John 6:53-54). Yet, to eat of it unworthily attracts condemnation (cf. 1 Cor 11:27-29). Hence, St. Paul, in the Second Reading encourages us to shun vices and embrace virtues, which would guide us to walk in love as Christ loved us.
Are you a partaker in this heavenly food for the journey? Or have you been brainwashed into believing that it is not necessary if you eat or not? When was the last time that you received the Holy Eucharist worthily? Is anything worth separating you from this most precious love of God (cf. Rom 8:35)?
May God give us the grace to understand the value of the Eucharist in our lives. And may we receive from it, the strength to carry on when the cares and afflictions of the world try to weigh us down. Amen.
Have a fulfilled Sunday. Peace be with you.