“Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I remain in them.”
Here’s that “hard saying” of Jesus at which many of his disciples drew back from, no longer to follow him.
What is going on here?
At minimum, this is John’s graphic way of showing us the paramount vitalness of taking Jesus, the Bread of Life, into our innermost being–of ingesting him into our lives.
The majority church over the centuries has taken this to refer to Jesus speaking of the Lord’s Supper aka Eucharist aka Communion. This is a sacred reminder through our physicality of the very Gospel Life-giving message–that Jesus Christ gave his body to be broken, his blood to be shed…for you. For me. For us all. It is a weekly (hopefully) physical practice that enters (hopefully) into our hearts, our lives, our being.
One of the things I’ve come to appreciate from the Catholic Church over the past seven years, since regularly visiting Saint Meinrad Archabbey, is the physicality of spirituality. It took me a while, but now I “go through the motions” in utmost sincerity by bowing to the altar of Christ when I enter the abbey, reminding me of who alone I bow to. I cross myself at the beginning of the prayer time, reminding myself of the reality of the Trinity and its being the center of the universe. I have instituted my own physical movements as habits of reminding myself of what is most vital, I always bow to a set of crosses upon entering our prayer room at home, again, to remind me physically, tangibly through my body, to communicate to my heart, that Jesus is my Lord.
This has been very good for me, and did not start it out of meaningless ritual, but only when I was ready to give it an attempt from sincerity and a humble heart before my King. As my friend Kristin once said: “If it doesn’t throw you into the arms of Jesus, then throw it out!” (Except for the Lord’s Supper–don’t ever throw that out)
I love that Jesus on earth was not only spiritual or ethereal, but earthy, affirming of our having bodies, and that we connect to God and one another through the good, God-approved of bodies he gave to us.