Jesus comes down from heaven and dwells among us. He takes up our flesh of death to give us spirit and life. He wants us to rise.
The Jews were the ones who grumbled before when Jesus said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” Those who grumble now are disciples; it is hard for them to accept the Teacher’s words. One can guess that his words do not make them rise but lose heart.
But Jesus does not take back his word. He says they are spirit and life. He also repeats that no one can come to him if the Father does not grant it.
No doubt, Jesus’ words faze reason. How can someone from the earth come down from heaven? How can a carpenter give to others his flesh to eat?
These words trigger crisis, judgment, division, treason. For they are the words of the one who separates from one another those who fall and those who rise (Lk 2, 34-35). They are the words of God’s Word, which is alive, effective, and sharper than any two-edged sword (Heb 4, 12). It pierces between soul and spirit and divides them. It bares the thoughts of the heart.
And to be among those who rise, one cannot settle for reason. It is not enough; there is need for the heart that reason has its reasons that reason does not know. And to feel God by the heart, not by the reason, is what faith is about.
To rise due to faith
Faith is what those who fall lack. That is why they find shocking that Jesus says that he is the bread from heaven. He says too that that the food he gives is his flesh and blood. So, it will not be surprising if to see him go up where he was before will shock them even more. They do not believe when he speaks of things of the earth. It will be even harder for them to believe when he speaks of things of heaven (see Jn 3, 10-15).
Indeed, it is hard for us to understand that to obey to death on the cross means to rise. It is hard to accept that to die so is to receive the “Name-above-every-name.” To grasp the mystery that Jesus and his words are, we have to have faith. The flesh’s reason is of no use.
The Father will open the hearts of those whom he draws. By faith, they will get to enter the mystery. It will be plain to them that the cross does not reveal a vengeful god who is thirsty for blood. Rather, the cross makes known God who is Father; he teaches his children how to live life to the fullest.
He teaches us that to die is to live. It is not that the cross does not portray the havoc that greed, the lack of justice and of caring love, wreaks. But the cross speaks at the same time of the way to feed and cherish the flesh.
If we say yes to the cross, the flesh of death will become spirit that gives life. If we hold the memorial of the cross, its face and words, not those of the wicked, will fill us (Ps 17, 15; 73, 10).
Lord Jesus, let us eat of your bread, and give us to drink. For there is nothing that can satisfy our hunger and quench our thirst. We who are weak and prone to fall will thus rise. And we will thus also see you, by the light of faith, in the poor (SV.EN XI:26).
22 August 2021
21st Sunday in O.T. (B)
Jos 22, 1-2a. 15-17. 18b; Eph 5, 21-32; Jn 6, 60-69