John 6: 51 – 58
Jesus said to the Jews. “I’m telling you the most solemn and sober truth now: Whoever believes in me has real life, eternal life. I am the Bread of Life. Your ancestors ate the manna bread in the desert and died. But now here is Bread that truly comes down out of heaven. Anyone eating this Bread will not die, ever. I am the Bread – living Bread! – who came down out of heaven.
Anyone who eats this Bread will live—and forever! The Bread that I present to the world so that it can eat and live is myself, this flesh-and-blood self.”
At this, the Jews started fighting among themselves: “How can this man serve up his flesh for a meal?”
But Jesus didn’t give an inch. “Only insofar as you eat and drink flesh and blood, the flesh and blood of the Son of Man, do you have life within you. The one who brings a hearty appetite to this eating and drinking has eternal life and will be fit and ready for the Final Day. My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. By eating my flesh and drinking my blood you enter into me and I into you. In the same way that the fully alive Father sent me here and I live because of him, so the one who makes a meal of me lives because of me. This is the Bread from heaven. Your ancestors ate bread and later died.
Whoever eats this Bread will live always”.
The day before this, on the far shore of the lake, Jesus had fed over five thousand people by multiplying five loaves and two fish. They now gather round him again, looking for more. He tells them that such food cannot last, just like the manna from heaven that Moses gave their ancestors in the desert.
The true bread which he now offers is his own flesh and blood. Understandably, the people were horrified. Many of his followers, indeed, were to leave him on hearing this.
Peter and the Twelve, however, remained faithful. They were with him at the Last Supper when he took some bread, blessed it and gave it to them, saying ‘Take it, and eat it, this is my body.’ This is myself. Similarly with the wine. Every time the Eucharist is celebrated, Jesus gives us himself, telling us, ‘Abide in me as I abide in you’ (John 15:4).