“How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

In this reading from the Gospel of John (Jn 6:51-58), the Jews are amazed at Jesus’ claim:

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

But Jesus responds:

“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.” 

Roman Catholics take Jesus’ words literally, believing that the celebrant at Mass transforms the bread and wine into Jesus’ body and blood in the same way that Jesus did during the Last Supper.

But there’s a metaphorical way to read this scripture from John, too. Accepting Jesus into our lives as our savior welcomes his body and blood in our lives, and he will live in us forever. So if you don’t believe in the transformation of mere bread and wine into the actual body and blood of Christ, you can certainly believe in the metaphorical body and blood of Christ present in your soul, which can transform your life.

I’m not sure The Church would accept that metaphorical trade off, but it’s one way for non-believers to look at this bit of affirming scripture and see how it can be true for them, too.

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