Throughout the past weeks we have been making our way through the sixth chapter of John's gospel, better known as the Bread of Life discourse. Our reading this week (John 6:51-58
) is perhaps the most intimate portrayal of Christ's relationship with us. At the beginning of John's gospel John writes, "And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son,
full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). Here in our Gospel reading the word play is intimate and delicate, appealing to our physical hunger and thirst while moving toward union with Christ in faith: "Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them" (6:56)
It is not a carnal eating of flesh and drinking of blood, as if we were wild animals, that we are being invited in to, but rather an intimate eating and drinking which draws us into faith and faith into sight. The Benedictine's use the image of eating the Word (translated Jesus) when they describe the practice of Lectio Devina, a ruminating on the Word which when digested feeds our hearts and minds, nourishes our body and soul, our faith and, ultimately, our daily lives.
Title: The Blind Man's Meal (detail), 1903 by Picasso, Pablo, 1881-1973
Notes: For those of us in the sighted world, we cannot imagine being unable to see. We are moved to pity for those who do not "see" the world in the way that we do. But Picasso's painting forces us to reconsider; his subject touches the pitcher of wine, and holds the bread, symbols of Christ's own life and death. The "blind" man may indeed "see" God far more deeply than those of us who are distracted by the busyness of the sighted world.
Martin Luther put it poetically, rephrasing, as it were, Jesus' call to abide: "It matters not if you are still somewhat weak, for I am in you. If you lack anything, I have an abundance of righteousness, holiness, and wisdom; I have no weaknesses. But if you are weak, your weakness is in Me, and I will see to it that I help you, that I drown your weakness in My strength and power, that I delete your sin in My righteousness, that I devour your death in My life" (Luther's Works 23:145).
The Prayer of the Day for Sunday:
Ever-loving God, your Son gives himself as living bread for the life of the world.
Fill us with such a knowledge of his presence that we may be strengthened and sustained by his risen life to serve you continually. Amen
Jesus Christ is extending an invitation to abide, to dwell, in and with us. We can trust that this invitation is true...that Christ has indeed given his life for you...that He is in you and you are in Him...that this eucharistic eating and drinking with hands outstretched is toward eternal life.
So come this week and be nourished and have your thirst quenched by the One who invites you into a life-giving relationship.