Ordinarily, when we look at the public ministry of Jesus, we focus on His words. His parables, commands and sayings provide us with the guidelines needed to live good Christian lives. In one case, however, what Jesus didn’t say is of equal or greater importance than what He did say. Over the past few days, I’ve been looking at some Scripture passages supporting the Catholic Church as the one, true Church. Today, let’s look at the Lord’s Bread of Life discourse, where He gave an astonishing teaching, using a combination of words and silence.
Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.” These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.” As a result of this, many (of) his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him (Jn 6:53-66).
Jesus said that eating His flesh and drinking His blood is necessary in order to have eternal life. This created quite a stir among His disciples, as evidenced by their comment about it being a “hard saying”. Throughout the ages, many who don’t believe in the Catholic teaching of the Real Presence, have argued that Jesus wasn’t speaking literally. They feel that He was just speaking figuratively. If that’s the case, why are His words difficult to accept? They are difficult to accept because everyone standing there that day knew that Jesus was speaking literally and really meant what He said. It didn’t make sense to them. How could they eat His Body and drink His Blood? As further proof that Jesus really meant what He said, Scripture tells us that many of His disciples walked away, returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied Him!
If Jesus was only speaking figuratively, wouldn’t it make sense for Him to call them back and clear up the misunderstanding? Instead, He said…
Why? Because He meant exactly what He said previously.
Next: The “difficult” words of Jesus suddenly make sense as He celebrates the Last Supper (Luke 22:19-20).