A reflection for the Feast of the Body and Blood of the Lord.
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life, he who comes to me shall not hunger,
and he who believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6 : 35)
Human beings suffer from many different types of hunger. In the Gospels Jesus offers various kinds of “bread” to people and so satisfies their many hungers. To the people who followed him into the desert, and who were starving, he offered ordinary bread and so satisfied their physical hunger. To the leper, whose body was falling apart, he offered the only bread that really mattered to him – physical healing. To the lonley woman at Jacob’s well, he offered the bread of human kindness, and so satisfied he hunger for acceptance. To the rejects and outcasts, by mixing with them and sharing their bread, he offered the bread of companionship and so satisfies their hunger for self-worth. To the widow of Nain who was burying her only son, and to Martha and Mary who had just buried their brother Lazerus, he offered the bread of compassion, and showed them that even in death we are not beyond the reach of God’s help. To the thief who dies at his side, he offered the bread of reconciliation with God, thus bringing peace to his troubled soul.
Some refused his offer of bread. A rich young man to whom he offered the bread of discipleship and who couldn’t part with his riches. Scribes and Pharisees who were offered the bread of conversion but they had no taste for it. Pilate who was offered the bread of truth but he had no appetite because it meant putting his position at risk.
So Jesus shared himself with others under many different forms and in many different ways, and he did this long before offering himself to them as food and drink at the Last Supper.
Jesus nourishes us in all these ways all the time but he nourishes us in a special way when we receive the Eucharist. Those who have a deep sense of the presence of God in the whole of creation do not have great difficulty in believing that he is present in a very special way in Holy Communion. We are not able to experince this very special presence in the current crisis but even so we know that God alone satisfies all the longings and hungers of our hearts. He alone is the bread of eternal life. It will not be too long before we can be together again and celebrate this great gift of God to his Church, the Body and Blood of his Son, which St. Ignatius of Antioch said is truly “a medicine of immortality, an antidote to death”.