Sunday, May 7, 2006

EATING FLESHING, DRINKING BLOOD

I'm not sure if these words written together will trip an Internet filter in someone's PC, Mac or Pod, or pique NSA terror-sniffing monitors, or just plain startle readers. It wouldn't be the first time. Jesus' first followers were pretty startled when he started talking this way. If you wouldn't eat his flesh and drink his blood, he said, you would have no part in him. He who was known to be the son of Joseph and Mary proclaimed that he was, in fact, the bread that was sent down from heaven that one might eat and thereby have eternal life.

STRANGE WORDS FOR NAIVE EARS. John 6 reflects on this discussion Jesus had with followers and interested onlookers before any of them had a clue that Jesus would die on a cross and be resurrected from the dead, long before his flesh would be broken and his blood spilled out. "Eat my flesh; drink my blood." Strange words for naive ears. Somehow, even after 2,000 plus years of rumination and theological filtration, the words "eat my flesh" and "drink my blood" are still stark and striking. We want to tame them, sanitize them, neuter them and control them. Jesus, his words and actions are still too radical for most of us.

GO AHEAD, PARTAKE. But to hungry hearts and thirsty souls, anemic after being force-fed empty cultural pabulum for years and parched to the bone though swimming in seas of Western material wealth, Jesus' offer of food and drink is good news. To those of us who eat and are never satisfied and who drink and are never filled, there is nothing lost in translation; we get it where those who are full of themselves don't, or can't, or won't. Instead of the perpetually ironic mirage on the horizon, Jesus is the real McCoy. Jesus satisfies the soul. Go ahead, partake. It's all for you.

1 comment:

  1. "Eat my flesh" and "drink my blood" -- yes, indeed stark comments. I thought of the starkness of it yesterday as folks came to the table of the Lord there at Broadway. I saw the two men before me with their beautiful baby daughter -- they've fallen in love with her and now she may be taken away from them and their hearts are breaking. They open their hands for the body...A widower whose dear wife of over 60 years died a few months ago -- another breaking heart -- and he reaches for the blood. The young mother and her five children come to the table. She's struggling to keep from being evicted. Body...blood for her. Folks going through divorce. Brokeness all around. A man struggling with sobriety, kneels weeping at the rail. Another woman celebrating six months of sobriety kneels quietly a few feet away. Both fed from the same loaf. The same cup. A young couple just married who will be leaving for China to work in the Peace Corps for two years. They feast, too. At one point I see two women who have been at war with one another approaching. They too eat from the same loaf, drink from the same cup. I keep thinking of the words of St. Augustine -- "Be what you see. Receive who you are. And say, 'Amen.'" - Amen.

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