John 6:51-58 (CEV)
[Jesus is talking about himself being the bread of heaven] "I am that bread from heaven! Everyone who eats it will live forever. My flesh is the life-giving bread that I give to the people of this world."
They started arguing with each other and asked, "How can he give us his flesh to eat?"
Jesus answered: "I tell you for certain that you won't live unless you eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man. But if you do eat my flesh and drink my blood, you will have eternal life, and I will raise you to life on the last day. My flesh is the true food, and my blood is the true drink. If you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you are one with me, and I am one with you.
"The living Father sent me, and I have life because of him. Now everyone who eats my flesh will live because of me. The bread that comes down from heaven isn't like what your ancestors ate. They died, but whoever eats this bread will live forever."
1. At different times in church history this whole section has been variously seen as having a specifically Eucharistic focus or as being quite metaphoric. The bias we come to this material with will shape the way in which we hear it and wrestle meaning from it. An important question is, "how do you see this whole talk about bread and heaven and flesh and blood and eternal life and last day?
2. One picture is that of Jesus pointing to where he has found his source of strength and hope -- eating GOD. The "living Father" is the source of Jesus' life in all its fullness. The life of Jesus (flesh and blood) is the source of our life in all its fullness. In finding this source of "eternity" for ourselves we are bold to be willing to offer what we have that others might find their way through this same stream to life in all its fullness for themselves.
GOD ---> Jesus ---> you and me ---> others ---> all ---> GOD
3. When we have found fullness of life we have found the source of the rhythm of eternity. This source is never easy to experience or to hold onto as it is part of the living GOD. So this conversation about bread and flesh reminds us to hold lightly to the certainties of the past lest they turn life into law and we think we know what such mystery is about. The danger here is that we turn our meaning into meaning for all and today's meaning into tomorrow's. I choose the metaphor approach. How about you?
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