Gospel of John 6:51-58
My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink
Jesus said to the crowd:
‘I am the living bread which has come from heaven.
Anyone who eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I shall give is my flesh,
for the life of the world.’
Then the Jews started arguing with one another: ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ they said. Jesus replied:
‘I tell you most solemnly,
if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you will not have life in you.
Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood
has eternal life,
and I shall raise them up on the last day.
For my flesh is real food
and my blood is real drink.
Those who eat my flesh and drinks my blood
lives in me
and I live in them.
As I, who am sent by the living Father,
myself draw life from the Father,
so whoever eats me will draw life from me.
This is the bread comes from heaven;
not like the bread our ancestors ate:
they are dead,
but anyone who eats this bread will live for ever.’
Jesus teaches us that the “bread from heaven”, once offered to Israel’s ancestors, is now offered to all of us, however this bread is a gift of nourishment not only for this life but for eternity life. [1a]
How can we as Christians express our faith in Jesus and be nourished by him today?
How do we feel drawn to celebrate Eucharist and other sacraments in today’s world where physical distancing is necessary because of Covid19?
Mary Ward’s actions reveal that she equated them with her deepest truth. In 1631 as she lay in prison with a ‘violent fever’, she was offered the sacraments of reconciliation and communion in exchange for signing a paper declaring an untruth about her. She preferred to die without receiving the sacraments. In the face of this expression of faith, the Dean in authority was stopped in his tracks, withdrew the demand to sign and she received the sacraments.
I am struck by the spirit of courage and love that sustained Mary Ward, the expression of truth or ‘verity’ that she embodied and her deep trust and ‘felt knowledge’ of Jesus’ ways.
In this spirit of courage, love and verity let us discern as a community of faith; noticing where we draw life from and where we are nourished.
[1a] Johns Gospel frequently speaks of “eternal life”, Johanine Scholar Mary Coloe prefers to speak of “eternity-life” to emphasise that Jesus is not just offering ordinary life extended in time, but a whole ew quality of life – the life that God lives in eternity. Mary Coloe, A Friendly Guide to: John’s Gospel, Garrat Publishing; Mulgrave Vic., 2013.
1] The English Vita (The Briefe Relation) 51.
 Viaticum = the Eucharist as given to a person near or in danger of death.