Today’s first reading from Acts 9 tells us about the conversion of St. Paul. Since we celebrated that feast on Jan. 25, we’ll concentrate today on the Gospel reading from John 6.
Today’s Gospel is at the heart of Catholic theology on the Eucharist. We hear Jesus saying, “Unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, you do not have life within you.” And, “For my Flesh is true food, and my Blood is true drink.” Non-Catholics will say that Jesus was speaking figuratively here. But the word that Jesus used for “eat” meant “chew” or “gnaw.” Nothing figurative here. How could His Flesh and Blood be TRUE FOOD and TRUE DRINK (my emphasis) unless we could really eat and drink of them?
Oddly enough, many Christians who say they take the Scriptures literally fail to do so with these words of Jesus. And yet the Catholic Church takes these words at face value. Remember, Jesus spoke these words before He instituted the Eucharist. As Catholics, we believe that Jesus said what He meant and meant what He said. He knew as He spoke these words the He would leave a way for all people for all time to do just as He had said; eat His Flesh and drink His Blood, that we might have eternal life.
Father, we thank you for the Body and Blood of Christ. Give us the faith to truly believe in this greatest of gifts that your Son left for us for all time. Amen.