Summary: The person who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will also live because of me.
The person who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will also live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not the kind that your ancestors ate. They died, but the one who eats this bread will live forever." He said this while teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.
When many of his disciples heard this, they said, "This is a difficult statement. Who can accept it?" But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, "Does this offend you? What if you saw the Son of Man going up to the place where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. But there are some among you who do not believe." For from the beginning Jesus knew those who wouldn’t believe, as well as the one who would betray him. So he said, "That’s why I told you that no one can come to me unless it be granted him by the Father."
As a result, many of his disciples turned back and no longer associated with him. So Jesus said to the twelve, "You don’t want to leave, too, do you?" Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life. Besides, we have believed and remain convinced that you are the Holy One of God."
I’m told that there are three kinds of people in this world - people who can count and people who can’t!
In truth, I am loathe to start any sermon with the declaration that there are only two or three types of people in the world, as I tend to think that there are all sorts of people in this world and that any attempt to simplify that is most probably an over-simplification.
Even so, I recognise that Jesus Himself was apt to make distinctions of this sort, and indeed in today’s Gospel reading it seems that people do fall into two simple categories - those who eat the flesh of Jesus and those who don’t!
"Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood", says Jesus, "you have no life in you. The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him to life on the last day." (John 6:53-54)
It seems indeed that there are just two types of people in the world - people who eat Jesus and those who don’t, which translates into Catholics and Protestants according to one of my online friends, who keeps trying to encourage me that there is still time for me to cross over to the side of truth! I keep telling him that it’s a bit late for me to become a celibate when I have four kids but ...
No, most of us gave up on dividing the world into Catholics and Protestants years ago. We discovered that these were not the only two types of people in the world but in fact that there are all sorts of people who are far easier to vilify and alienate than our brothers and sisters in the faith!
Even so, Jesus says, "The one who eats my flesh & drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will also live because of me."
And it is a divisive statement, and it does seem to divide us into two groups, even if it is not clear here how we are to identify that group that feeds on the flesh and blood of Jesus, short of seeing them engage in outright cannibalism
Yes, it has always been a distasteful dialogue, and we’ve been dealing with it for four weeks now here in church, and I admit that when I first looked up the reading for this week I did wince a little, thinking, ’I thought we’d got past this!’
And I suspect that some of you too, when you heard the Gospel read today, likewise thought, ’I’ve heard enough of this!’ And so perhaps it comes as no surprise when we find that this was exactly how the crowd that originally heard Jesus responded. "This is a hard saying", they said. "Who can hear it?"
They found Jesus pretentious. They found him distasteful. They found Him incomprehensible. In the end they just found Him to be too much hard work. They had had enough, and so they turned to go home!