“The ‘Flesh’ for Others”, by Fr. Joel

My great salute to our young people in the parish and those who came to volunteer for our relief efforts. It is the spirit of Jesus, the body and blood poured out for many that was evidently felt by our young people.

John 6:51-58
For these past Sundays, we have been introduced to the Eucharistic gospel, the Chapter 6 of John. Jesus has subtly introduced himself as the “bread of life”. This time however, Jesus has his bold claim, “I am the living bread which has come down from heaven; whoever eats of this bread will live forever. The bread I shall give is my flesh and I will give it for the life of the world.” (v.5l-52). As he has presented himself this way, the Jews all the more questioned his claim. They cannot fully comprehend what Jesus is claiming. Thus, their question: “How can this man give us FLESH to eat” (v. 53)?

In the Jewish tradition, “flesh” means “the whole person.” So they find it very scandalous for Jesus to invite them to be the “flesh” for others and to eat him. But this invitation was provoked all the more by Jesus’ additional statement: “Truly I say to you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (v, 54). What is Jesus telling us in this profound declaration of himself? This leads to his explanation of what the Eucharist is all about.

Jesus is telling us that he is giving himself to us as the bread and wine that will give life to others. The primary reason for his sacrifice is to be the LIFE FOR OTHERS. In this invitation of Jesus, we are personally drawn to the life-giving instincts that we need,
to shape and reshape our lives. When we share ourselves as the life for others, like Jesus totally abandoning himself for us, then, it is very easy to share, easy for us to give ourselves for others. This is the essence of the Holy Eucharist. Can we feel this essence in concrete terms?

I would like to share with you a recent personal experience. When we were at the height of all our worries about the monsoon rains that forced thousands of families out of their homes, I was informed by our Calamity Core Group in the parish that we have to start a relief operation. I was not surprised why they had this urgent concern because it is imbedded already in the hearts of our parish youth. The message in their Facebook and Tweeter accounts has this to say… “Spread love through our relief efforts in the parish.” In just a matter of two hours, the young people came, goods poured in, and many hands prepared goods that responded to the needs of close to 15,000 families. Relief goods, positive responses, Bayanihan spirit that moved everyone to prepare the goods and share them with families in the affected areas (unloading them even at 3am with no traces of qualms from a hungry soul, who thinks of others rather than himself), singing community songs while loading the goods- these are concrete signs in “flesh and blood” being shared with others. That is Jesus feeding the hungry crowd of thousands, healing and giving life to downtrodden souls. My great salute to our young people in the parish and those who came to volunteer for our relief efforts. It is the spirit of Jesus, the body and blood poured out for many that was evidently felt by our young people.

“As the living Father has sent me, and as I live because of the Father, so he who eats me, he also shall live because ofme”( v.59). This verse presents a fact that Jesus was coming from the living Father, the compassionate Father who responded to the hungry crowds in the desert. So whoever accepts him in his “wholeness” shall live, and will have life. “Eating the flesh and drinking his blood” connote salvation. Thus, whoever eats the bread and drinks the cup will surely have life in Him as Jesus had told us. True to the expression “the living Father”, the “living bread” goes with it, and so if we stay with Jesus, the “living bread”, we also will live forever.

Can we consistently be the Eucharist, the living Jesus for others?

as published on August 19, 2012 Parish Bulletin

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