Today’s Bible reading
The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So 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. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.” – John 6:52-58
More thoughts for meditation
The last “supper” became the title for the meal Jesus shared with his disciples, carefully noted in every gospel account and summarized as an ongoing observance by Paul in 1 Corinthians 11. Paul calls it the “Lord’s Supper” — in the King James Bible of 1611, at least, when light evening meals were called “supper” and the main meal of the day “dinner.” It is also called sitting at “the Lord’s table,” and sharing the “cup of blessing.” It comes to be generally named “communion” or the communion “ceremony/observance” in Protestant churches, since it is the central place where the presence of the Lord is experienced among his people. In the Catholic church it is often called the “Eucharist.” The term “eucharist” derives through Latin back to Greek as the word for “thanksgiving.” The prayer that begins the communion ceremony in the mass begins with “give thanks.” It is the center point of the “mass” (a term derived from the final words of the service: “Go” or “dismissed”).
Today’s song is a well-loved song from the Catholics in the 1980s. It is designed to be beautiful, comforting and peaceful. John’s call to “Behold the agnus Dei” is brought down to a meditative, heartfelt approach to the elements as presented in the mass. Those who wish will be going up to receive the wafer, those having returned or waiting will be singing. Everyone will will be encouraged to receive the promises of today’s Bible reading. Those who eat will come to know his glory; “the one who eats this bread will live forever.” Imagine yourself participating as you listen. Let Jesus give himself to you.
Suggestions for action
Catholic children have been known to fear cannibalism when the bell rings and the elements are purportedly changed into the actual body of Christ. But what is happening is a sincere attempt to not turn away from Jesus, as many do in John 6, when he calls us to eat and drink true food. Manna in the desert was a shadowy precursor, however miraculous. It passed into rot. But this manna will never rot in the earth like people who die. Many would like Jesus to just be a good teacher and maybe do a miracle here and there. But this unity in his life and victory over death is what he is actually present to offer. Do you want to sit down at his table? What are you telling your friends and children about Him?
If you lead us in worship, what about communion? Does this song teach you anything? You can find this song on the COH Music Table.
Today is Benedict of Nursia Day! Appreciate his practical innovation and influence at Celebrating Our Transhistorical Body.