The Jews were arguing among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus replied, “Truly, I say to you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
My flesh is really food, and my blood is truly drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood, live in me, and I in them. Just as the Father, who is life, sent me, and I have life from the Father, so whoever eats me will have life from me. This is the bread from heaven; not like that of your ancestors, who ate and later died. Those who eat this bread will live forever.”
Jesus spoke in this way in Capernaum when he taught them in the synagogue.
In the Book of Acts the Christian faith is seven times referred to as the Way (here in today’s first reading, as also in Acts 18:26; 19:9, 23; 22:4; 24:14, 22) or as the Way of the Lord. It is interesting to note that, already in the 6th century B.C., the Chinese Lao-Tze called the new religion he was teaching the Tao, which in Chinese means: path, way. Nothing is really surprising in all this because a religion, any religion, teaches a way of living more than a set of abstract notions. Consequently, if our Christianity is only made of information about God and nothing more (that is, if it does not inform our lives), it is useless.
Another striking detail in today’s first reading is the manner in which Jesus completely identifies himself with Christians: “Why do you persecute me… I am Jesus whom you persecute.” These words should not surprise us because in today’s gospel reading Jesus specifies very clearly that “those who eat my flesh and drink my blood, live in me, and I in them.” To be a Christian is to be inside Christ and it is to have Christ be inside him or her. There is no deeper intimacy.
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