For the next several weeks we shift from listening to St. Mark’s gospel to listening to St. John’s sixth chapter. It is the heart of our understanding of the Eucharist as a Catholic Church. If you get a chance please read this chapter of John’s gospel on your own so that you can get the whole flow of this chapter. We will be listening to different parts of this chapter each week and this interrupts the whole of the story. At times on Sunday it will feel like we are just repeating ourselves, but it really does progress slowly through the whole sixth chapter.
It begins with Jesus feeding the five thousand with five barley loaves and two fish. The crowd realizes something amazing has happened and they begin to follow him. Jesus confronts them and they ask him what he will give them, since Moses had fed their ancestors with manna. He tells them he will give them his flesh which will give them eternal life. This is a very intense exchange and in the end most of the people walked away because they could not endure the idea of eating any human being’s flesh.
This happens in the first year of Jesus’ ministry and it is not until his third year of ministry that he reveals at the Last Supper that the bread and wine of that meal are His Body and Blood. That bread and wine has become the treasure of the Church since that first Easter Sunday as they celebrated the resurrection of Jesus.
I always find it so interesting that so many who take the Bible literally cannot embrace this central story of John’s gospel. If they did they would be drawn to the Catholic Church in order to receive this great gift that God has given to us.