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. 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 the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
I teach second grade religious education in my parish and our class is getting ready to make our First Holy Communion tomorrow morning. The hardest part of teaching about Communion, especially to young children, is trying to explain to them that Jesus comes body, blood, soul and divinity in the Eucharist. It is a hard concept for even adults to try to understand. But we are not called to just understand. We are called to have faith.
If anyone asks me where Catholics get the idea that the Eucharist is truly Jesus and not just a symbol, I point them to this passage. It says it all – my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. And then at the Last Supper when Jesus says those amazing words of consecration (This is my body – This is my blood), it points back to this passage as well.
The Eucharist is not just a representation or sign of Jesus – it is Jesus!
So, when my class receives Jesus tomorrow for the first time, they will hopefully start on a lifelong journey of nourishment in Christ. And I will also receive His precious body and blood and continue my own journey of faith. What a gift God has given us in the living food of Jesus!
We all need nourishment to sustain our earthly life but we need Jesus in the Eucharist on a regular basis to sustain our Heavenly and eternal life.