(Adults, the Bread of Life discourse concludes this week. It is complicated--for adults as well as for children :) You could begin by reading the Gospel aloud to the child. Alternatively, you could read the first paragraph of the reflection to the child, then read the Gospel, and then continue with the reflection.)
We know that Jesus, the Good Shepherd, feeds his sheep. We know that Jesus feeds five thousand people who gather around him on the mountain. Jesus, the Bread of Life, feeds. That's what he does. That's who he is. But Jesus has more to give. He has even better food. The best. In the Gospel for this Sunday, we hear what this best food is.
Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.
When Jesus says, "eat the flesh of the Son of Man," we know this means, eat the body, because our flesh is our body. But who is the Son of Man? This is a name we hear in the Bible for a person who comes from God, for a person who is sent by God. Who can that be? We know! Sometimes Jesus uses this name when he is talking about himself.
Jesus tells the people that without his body and his blood, they will have no life in them. They will not have Jesus' life in them.
What can we say about Jesus' life? He has life from God. After Jesus dies on the cross, God raises him from the dead. God fills Jesus with new, Risen life so that Jesus can never die again. His life is eternal. Jesus wants to give this life to the people. But how? How can he give them his flesh and his blood?
The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
Jesus' words are not just words at all. They are spirit. They are life. No wonder people like to listen to him! When Jesus speaks, his words dance all around those who listen! Things happen. Jesus' words give life.
Can we think of some of his words which give life?
At the Last Supper, Jesus takes the bread in his hands, blesses it and breaks it. He gives it to his apostles saying, "Take, eat, this is my body." He takes the cup filled with wine, and after blessing it, he gives it to his friends, saying, "Take and drink. This is my blood." His words are spirit and life. They dance around the apostles. Something happens. The bread and wine are no longer simply bread and wine. They are his life.
This is how Jesus can give his body and blood to people! When he feeds them with the bread and wine, people can have his life within them!
Jesus' words are different from ours. Our words talk about spirit and life. Jesus' words are spirit and life. Why are his words are so special? Why do they dance?
Peter knows. He tells Jesus,
“You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
Jesus is the Holy One of God, and what God says, God does.
When Jesus says, "this is my body," the bread becomes his body. It is filled with his spirit.
When Jesus says, "this is my blood," the wine becomes his blood. It is filled with eternal life.
The best food.