Jesus is continuing his discourse on the bread of life, explicitly saying today unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you... those who do have eternal life.... and they will abide in Jesus, and Jesus will abide in them.... In three verses John recounts Jesus saying three times about the importance and necessity of eating his flesh and the drinking of his blood, thereby leading us to a new life, a different life, a completely altered life.
Besides, probably, being grossed out by what Jesus is saying, the folks he is talking to don't understand him. One of the many points Jesus is trying to drive home in this discourse is a "new" idea from the one who sent Jesus: that the one who sent Jesus is a living God, not some ancient relic, buried, or hidden, in the rules and laws that governed so much of the life of the synagogue. Jesus is using these very strong images of eating flesh and drinking blood to shake those to whom he is speaking, which includes us, into radically shifting our understanding of how the world works, of how we must operate in the world. Just as the living God sent Jesus and allows him to live and see and operate in the world so very differently, Jesus is saying so can we be part of that direct chain to the living God, by taking into ourselves these precepts, these understandings of how to live in the world differently. By taking into ourselves the flesh and blood of Jesus, that act is meant, as any nourishment does, to help transform us, help nurture us, help to strengthen us to be that change-agent bringing the kingdom's presence to light.
Jesus wants us to stand out from the norm that is considered culturally acceptable by understanding the world as he does, and as the living God intends it to be. What can we do on this Friday in Lent that can make the presence of this living God palpably real, manifested. to us and to those we encounter?
Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: The Chancel of The Church of St. Luke in the Fields, NYC.