The human mind questions information it receives before properly assimilating it. Such questioning can be part of the process of knowing or an expression of rebuff or rejection. Sometimes those who claim to be ‘intellectual’ do not always get all the answers to the questions they impose on faith. However, the rational mind is a necessary solid foundation to implant faith in the believer; faith itself goes beyond reason, elevates and dignifies it, and saves it from the self-agony of endless and restless regress. So, reason finds ‘joy’ in faith; faith stands secure in reason. That is why a scientific question was thrown at Jesus in the Gospel of today.
After listening to His teachings on the ‘Bread of Life’, the Jews could not find it reasonable, so they asked, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?” The question, ‘how’ seeks a scientific explanation. But this can only be possible if the source or origin is human or nature. But since the ‘Bread of Life’ is God’s initiative and comes down from God as a Gift, man is only positioned to RECEIVE it. Hence, Jesus did not answer the scientific question but traced the consequences of this Gift in the lives of those who receive it in faith. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him at the last day.” Anticipating the Eucharist that would become His Body and Blood, Jesus said, “For my flesh is food indeed and my blood is drink indeed.” Those who consume Jesus in this way will have their lives mingled together with Him, such that the life of Jesus will be evident in their lives. “So he who eats me will live because of me.”
Imagine such great assurance that through the Eucharist we can bear in our mortal bodies the imprint of the life of Christ. Think about what it means for us, amid the hardships of this life, that Jesus abides with us. Think about Jesus as living in those early Christians martyred by Saul, even as he travels down to Damascus for more persecution! Even today, we still have Jesus abiding in the lives of victims of domestic violence, rape, robbery, terrorism, bad government policies, injustice, abuse, etc. He does not leave us even when friends depart. Instead, Jesus calls out to the Persecutor, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me…I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” Now, meditate deeply on how Jesus abides in us to make our wounds His very own. You will see why those who eat His flesh and drink His blood receive healing and are constantly renewed, even in the face of their persecutors! Amen.
Fr Jude Chinwenwa Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R
Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church,
Friday April 23rd, 2021.