This Sunday has a great long name: The SOLEMNITY OF THE MOST HOLY BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST. Sometimes we call it by a shorter name: Corpus Christi. Either way, we think more about who Jesus is and who we are with him. In the Gospel for this Sunday, he says,
I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.
He tells us that he is living bread, the bread that is life. He will give this bread for the world, so that the world will live. The bread is his flesh; it is his body. He says so, so it is.
The people have trouble understanding this. Throughout his time on earth, Jesus seems very keen to get people to understand who he is and who they are with him. He tries different means. He says,
I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower...Abide in me as I abide in you...I am the vine, you are the branches. (John 15:1-5)
See, you are a part of me, he seems to say, the branches on God's vine. The whole vine is made entirely of you, the branches! Stay here, abide, make your home in me; I will make my home in you.
Well, that sounds good, does it not? It is good to know that we are part of Jesus. But how do we stay? How do we make a home in him? How does he make a home in us?
Today's Gospel uses some of these same words:
I am the living bread that came down from heaven...the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh...my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink...Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.
We can put these words from the two passages side-by-side to help us understand more.
True vine, true food, true drink. Jesus is True. We can trust what is true because it is right, it is honest, it never changes. God never changes. God is True.
We asked how can we make our home in Jesus, and Jesus says eat the gift of his body and drink from his life that he pours out in his blood—this is how we can abide. We know that as branches of the True Vine, the Life of the Vine flows into us. But how do we get it, how do we know it, how do we feel it?
When we are weak, when not enough Life seems to be flowing in us, how do we get strength?
When we have made bad choices, when we are sorry, when we cannot feel the Life of the Vine, how do we remain?
When we are sad, when we are in need, when we want to feel the love of God, what do we do?
How do we continue to grow, day after day, week after week, as branches of the True Vine?
We can receive the Living Bread, the bread that comes down from heaven.
Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.
Some of us may not have received the Living Bread yet. Does that mean that the Life of the Vine stops flowing in us?
"I am the vine," Jesus says.
"I am the living bread," he says.
The Living Bread is the Vine. The vine that is made entirely of the branches is the Living Bread.
That means the living bread is made of us.
The bread that Jesus gives for the life of the world, could that really be us???
Bread feeds the hungry. Can we do that?
Bread gives people energy. When people are tired and weak, can we give them strength and courage?
Bread makes people grow so they can get on with building the Kingdom. We wonder if we can do that...
The smell of freshly baked bread makes people gather together and want to stay. They remain. They make their home.
We can certainly do that.