Pope Francis reflected on the “decisive” verses of John’s gospel (6:51-58) in which the Lord explains that He is the living bread. Jesus speaks in the wake of the miracle of the loaves and fishes, but as remarkable as that was, his words now evoke doubt, questions, confusion.
The Holy Father’s remarks came August 19, 2018, before praying the noonday Angelus with a crowd estimated at 20,000 in St. Peter’s Square.
The Pope reminded listeners that after the miracle that turned five loaves and two fish into a meal for thousands, the crowd wanted to make Jesus their king. He had to leave and hide.
Their reaction to his words a short time later raises doubts: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”
“Here together with the flesh, the blood also appears,” Pope Francis explained. “Flesh and blood in biblical language express concrete humanity. The people and the disciples themselves intuit that Jesus is inviting them to enter into communion with Him, to “eat” Him, His humanity, to share with Him the gift of life for the world — anything other than triumphs and mirages of success! It is, in fact, Jesus’ sacrifice who gives Himself for us.”
The Pope continued by reminding listeners that the body and blood of Christi are “given to us freely at the table of the Eucharist.” Those participating in the Mass receive “that which feeds us and quenches us spiritually today and for eternity.”
Every time we take part in Holy Mass, we anticipate, in a certain sense, Heaven on earth, because from the Eucharistic food, the Body and Blood of Jesus, we learn what eternal life is,” Francis said. “The Eucharist molds us so that we don’t live only for ourselves but for the Lord and for brothers. Happiness and eternal life depend on our capacity to make fruitful the evangelical love we receive in the Eucharist.”
The Holy Father concluded with a reminder that Jesus continues to remind us that for eternal life we must eat His living bread. And it isn’t about just a physical bread, but a “living and vivifying bread, which communicates the life itself of God.”
“By nourishing ourselves with this food, we can enter into full harmony with Christ, with His sentiments and His behavior,” Francis said. “It is so important to go to Mass and to Communion because to receive Communion is to receive the living Christ, who transforms us within and prepares us for Heaven.”