August 19, 2018

JOHN 6:51-58

Friends, today’s Gospel passage is one of the most shocking in the New Testament. Those who heard it were not only repulsed intellectually; they were disgusted, viscerally. For a Jewish man to be insinuating that you should eat his own flesh and drink his blood was about as nauseating and religiously objectionable as you could get.

So what does Jesus do? Does he soften his rhetoric? Does he offer a metaphorical or symbolic interpretation? Does he back off? On the contrary, he intensifies what he just said: “Amen, amen I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.” As all the scholars point out to us, the verb used here in Greek is trogein, which indicates the way an animal eats.

So what do we do? If we stand in the great Catholic tradition, we honor these mysterious and wonderful words of Jesus. We resist all attempts to soften them or explain them away or make them easier to swallow. We affirm, with all of our hearts, the doctrine of the Real Presence.