CorpusA. Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14b-16a. “Moses said to the people: “Remember how for forty years now the Lord, your God, has directed all your journeying in the desert, so as to test you by affliction and find out whether or not it was your intention to keep his commandments. He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger.” The peoples who left Egypt had been there four hundred and thirty years (Ex 12:41). Their faith as a Hebrew people suffered because their circumstances were so difficult. Besides the Hebrews, “A crowd of mixed ancestry also went up with them,” (Ex. 12:38) which is to say, those leaving Egypt where not all committed to the Jewish faith. The forty years in the desert was to form or reform them as God’s People whose intention it was “to keep his commandments” and so be God’s faithful People “that not by bread alone does one live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the Lord.” It was by their commitment to God’s Will and not by their prosperity and human achievements that they were to have eternal happiness. The first reading goes on to recall how God cared for his people by giving them the material things they needed when they needed them.
John 6:51-58. Jesus tells the Jewish crowds, “the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” They found this quite repulsive, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat.” Despite the fact that they reacted so negatively, he makes his first statement even more explicit, saying in a strong formal way to note how important this statement is, “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.” Of course the life Jesus is referring to is the spiritual life that is forever. If that were not enough, he repeats explicitly this same statement twice more and implicitly yet twice more. Jesus makes no attempt to clarify as to how the Eucharist really works but seems to want to challenge their faith. Believe or leave! Their negative reaction is deepened so much more that “many [of] his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.” (Jn. 6:66) It seems to me that Jesus is saying to his followers that they should follow him out of faith and not because of miracles, how good he makes them feel or what he says makes so much sense. All those things are good but what really matters is the faith in Jesus that sustains us in the good times and the bad and that never falters no matter what. As Yahweh formed his People in the forty years in the desert so Jesus is forming his followers during his public ministry. “Jesus then said to the Twelve, ‘Do you also want to leave? Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.’” (Jn. 6:67-70) As with the Israelites and Jesus’ disciples, the life time of each one of us is a journey when we are being tested or pushed daily to choose Christ as our life. Do we daily in the good times and the bad grow in faith in God or not?
“Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.” Here I think Jesus is speaking of the Father dwelling in him in his humanness and so likewise Jesus lives in us and graces us with his divine life so that our earthly selves are enliven with a heavenly, spiritual share of God’s life in which, as the second reading says, we participate, which is then a part of us. Jesus’ body and blood, he himself, integrates himself into our being. Then we are far more than we would be if we were just our earthly selves. Jesus said, “For my flesh is true food and my blood true drink.” Faith is living a life dependent on God’s life within us. Paul wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me.” (Gal. 2:19b-20) Matthew 10:39 says, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” To live our lives in ourselves without Jesus is spiritual death. To live our lives in Christ, in his personal active presence within us, is spiritual life, life forever.
1 Corinthians 10:16-17. Paul is saying that the Eucharist is a union or communion of ourselves with Christ who draws us together with him in union with all who participate. The many members of the celebrating community are made one through our participation in the one Christ, in his body and blood. “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you,” (John 14:20) united to Jesus, we are put in communion or in a community with one an