Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you." - John 6:52-53
There are so many things about the Catholic faith that I find absolutely beautiful and so many places in Scripture I can go to reference to talk about them, but for today I decided to stay within John Chapter 6 and within the same passage as yesterday.
In John, Chapter 6, shortly after breaking the loaves and the fishes and feeding the multitudes, Jesus gives the crowds his most controversial teaching: that Jesus himself, his flesh, is the bread and his blood, is quite literally, the blood of life.
Protestant denominations will tell you that Jesus was being figurative here, however, that seems really unlikely.
He first tells the crowd in John 6:35:
I am the bread of life.
And the crowd gets upset about this, as you can see in John 6:41:
At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”
And Jesus continues in John 6:48, as he again says:
I am the bread of life
In John 6:51, for a third time, he makes the claim and yet he goes a step further saying that the bread of life is his flesh as you can see below:
I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
At this the crowd really began to get upset as you can see in John 6:52:
Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
At this point, if Jesus was being metaphorical in all of this, you'd expect him to say "Guys, relax, I'm just being metaphorical. You know, you'll drink the wine and eat the wafer and think about the sacrifice I'm making for you" or some such.
However, Jesus does exactly the opposite. He quadruples down and makes it very clear that he is being quite literal. In John 6:53-57, he says:
“Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me."
This is some of the scriptural basis for the real presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, but that's not really what I wanted to talk about today. What I really want to focus on today is what immediately follows this teaching.
We see in John 6:60-66 that the crowd cannot accept this teaching and they disperse and he turns to the Twelve in verse 67 and asks the question:
“You do not want to leave too, do you?”
In the span of just a few minutes, Jesus has gone from teaching many people, some say hundreds, to asking his Twelve most devoted followers if they are going to leave him as well.
Jesus could have, at any point during this teaching, compromised himself and the truth and capitulated to the audience to make it easy for them to stay, but he did not. He did not and he was perfectly willing to stand in God's truth and walk the path laid out before him, alone.
How often do we, as protestants, fall at the feet of our mega-church prosperity gospel preachers? Preachers who ignore the beautiful typology of scripture? Preachers who ignore entire books of the Bible? Preachers who skip the 6th chapter of John? Preachers who ignore the obviousness of the 12th chapter of Revelation or skip the book all together? Preachers who ignore the teachings of James, or even Paul?
Is it because we want our sanctuaries to be packed to the brim? Is it because we feel like we must entertain the masses with large rock-concert like stage productions? Do we feel like the Bible compels our teachers to give long-winded emotionally stirring diatribes on how Christian living can mingle with the moral relativism of this world?
I think Jesus would disagree with all of that. After all, he had every opportunity to do that very thing in John Chapter 6 and he didn't.
Thus, one of the things that attracts me most to the Roman Catholic Church is that there is none of this. There are no mega-churches. No super-star prosperity gospel preachers. No purple sequenced jacket wearing worship leaders with their rock-n-roll guitars. There's no compromise. There's just that beautiful stone table with the body and the blood of Jesus upon it and everything...EVERYTHING in that sanctuary and in that liturgy points to Christ.
Peace Be With You!