John 6 Day 6

Day 6

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Jn. 6:44-51


Our English language loads an awful lot on to the words “life” and “living,”  which can have multiple meanings.  We have expressions like, “Well, I guess that’s life’ used to mean that there are a lot of unpleasant or unpredictable things we don’t like but we just have to accept because we have not control over them.  We also have an expression, “Now that’s living!” or “I am living large.”   We might say that for example if we have just experienced a great accomplishment or achieved a long-held personal goal -- like finally getting that job promotion or hole-in-one or experiencing the perfect vacation.  The point is, there is life – and then there’s Life! 


We all instinctively know have a longing not just to survive, but to thrive.  To find fulfilment, joy, meaning and purpose in life, rather than just muddling through from day to day.


That’s good background to understand today’s snippet from the Bread of Life discourse. 


Our Lord wants to go one step further, not just showing us how earthly life can sometimes (and usually only briefly!) seem fulfilling, but that He comes to give us a different kind of life.  A life that we begin on earth, but that can only be completed and fulfilled in Heaven.  That the kind of life He comes to bring is not just an easy or comfortable or pleasant or occasionally satisfying life – but rather one that involves total fulfillment of what our heart and soul desire.


That is crucial to understand in our modern culture that constantly bombards us with the message that true happiness comes from material wealth and comfort, or the freedom to travel aimlessly around the country (or even around the world,  or to enjoy what even one or two generations ago our parents would have considered pure luxuries (leisure time at the always-crowded coffee shops, air conditioned comfort wherever we go, our children traveling all over the state for sporting events, second homes in Florida, and so on.)   Because we live in an extraordinarily affluent society, many Christians come to see this affluent lifestyle itself to be “the good life.”  But the reality is that if we have all that and no true relationship with Christ, we gain almost nothing.


We have to put together what St. John quotes Jesus saying here in Chapter 6, “Whoever eats this Bread will live forever” with what He says in Chapter 10 (“I have come that my people may have life and have it to the full.” [v. 10, in some translations, “in abundance”])


In other words, the life that comes from living in the grace of the Holy Eucharist is not just longer life – the good things stretching across time, like getting four nights in a hotel in Honolulu instead of two – but a different kind of life.  That is, life in perfect relationship and friendship with Christ Himself, the fullness of joy.  That’s greater a gift than anything we can do to “live it up” on earth.  If we spend all our efforts focused on ‘living the good life’ in the worldly sense – with no attention to building up our relationship with Christ through the hard work of prayer, Eucharistic devotion, and so on, then we risk losing the abundant life altogether.


We conclude this snippet with Christ’s reminder that the Church’s teaching that the Blessed Sacrament confected by the priest at Mass is truly (not merely symbolically) Jesus’ very Body and Blood .  “The bread that I will give is my flesh (Greek: sarx) for the life of the world.”  This word, sarx, is in no way generic.  It refers to the very tangible reality that Jesus was and is truly a flesh-and-blood man, at the same time He is divine.  We dive deep into the mystery in Holy Communion that Jesus becomes our “kin,” as our flesh-and-blood unites with His own.  There can be no greater life than that.