August 23rd

This is the fifth Sunday in a row on which we have heard the sixth chapter of Saint John’s Gospel proclaimed at Mass.  As you already know, this chapter contains what is known as the “Bread of Life” discourse.

In this discourse, Our Lord reveals what He will fulfill at the Last Supper, on Calvary and ultimately in the Eucharist: He gives His flesh to us as food and His blood as drink.

The Catholic Faith is the only Church that takes Our Lord’s words literally.  Every Christian denomination tries to soften or water-down those words of Our Lord.

Even in Our Lord’s own day those words (“My flesh is true food”) caused scandal: “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

Most Protestant denominations take the Lord’s words in John chapter six to be figurative or only symbolic.  This is clearly NOT the way that the Lord meant them, and today’s Gospel reading is the proof.

Our Lord says several times that He IS the Bread come from Heaven and that unless we eat His body and drink His blood we will not have life.  The crowd takes Jesus’ words literally and they find His teaching to be too difficult to accept.  If Jesus was only speaking figuratively, then He should have corrected their misunderstanding when they began to grumble and murmur at His teaching.  Not only does He not correct them, He continues to say the same thing in even stronger language.

As a result on His insistence that His flesh is true food, some of His own disciples “returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied Him.”  If He were only using a metaphor, why wouldn’t He stop the disciples from leaving?  Why wouldn’t He say: “Wait, you misunderstood me; I wasn’t speaking literally.”  He didn’t stop the ones who wanted to leave; instead He let them go and asked the Apostles if they, too, would leave.

For fifteen hundred years (until the Protestant “Reformation”) there was only one way to understand what Jesus did at the Last Supper: it was the fulfillment of what He taught in John’s sixth chapter.  The Catholic Church continues to faithfully teach this Truth, which was taught by Christ and handed on through the Apostles.

God bless,

Father White

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