HOMILY: SUNDAY 20 ‘B’ 2018
In today’s Gospel, Jesus says: ‘Anyone who eats this Bread, will live for ever; and the Bread that I shall give is my flesh…’
In the everyday world we inhabit for most of the time, food and drink figure so prominently. We are assailed on the TV, in newspapers and in all kinds of advertisements with recommendations of what we ought to buy, what we ought to cook, what we ought to eat and drink and where we would do well to eat out. But all this ‘this-worldly’ preoccupation with food and drink has as its starting point a perspective that is diametrically opposed to what Jesus means when he says: ‘Anyone who eats this Bread – my flesh – will live for ever’.
Our everyday, this worldly perspective on food and drink is this: that what we eat and drink will do us good, because, once we have eaten and drunk this, that and the other, it will all become part of us. It will fill us with protein and all kinds of other nourishing things and, as a result, our muscles and our bones and our arteries and whatever else makes up our bodies will be stronger, more healthy and we may even come to ‘look good’ or at least a bit better than we were before.
For Jesus, on the other hand, what he promises to give us – what he promises to feed us on – will not at all have this effect on us, it will not work on us at all in the same way as our ordinary food and drink does. He will not be changed into us. Rather, He will change us by transforming us into himself. The Bread he promises to give us – his own flesh that he offers us as our food – will take us out of ourselves and join us intimately to himself. By eating and drinking his flesh and his blood, as we do at the Eucharist, what happens is that we are taken up into his being, into his life. We are taken up into him, risen and glorified for all eternity – which means that, because we have become ‘one body, one spirit with him’, we shall, like him, ‘live for ever’.
We can sum up the truth proclaimed in today’s Gospel very simply: The Bread of Life, the Body of Christ, the now Risen Flesh of Christ that he gives us at Mass changes us into Himself – into Jesus, the One who has conquered evil, sin and death.
We become day by day, through faithfully receiving his gift of himself, members of his Body.
As St Augustine put it so succinctly: ‘If you have received well, you are what you have received’.
Thanks be to God for his great gift!