Emmitsburg Council of Churches


The Holy Gospel according to St. John 6: 56-69

Jesus said: 6:56 "Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 6:57 Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 6:58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever." 6:59 He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum. 

When many of his disciples heard it, they said, "This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?" 6:61 But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, "Does this offend you? 6:62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 6:63 It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 6:64 But among you there are some who do not believe."

For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. 6:65 And he said, "For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father." 6:66 Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. 6:67 So Jesus asked the twelve, "Do you also wish to go away?" 6:68 Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. 6:69 We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God." 

The Gospel of the Lord . . .

Our Source of Life is Christ

This sermon is entitled Our Source of Life is Christ because Jesus knows that we are lifeless without his presence abiding within us. Jesus therefore desires that we take him into ourselves . . . and this is what I am going to share with you in the sermon this morning.

When we hear Jesus say that we must "eat his flesh and drink his blood" it sounds like a DIFFICULT command to follow! This kind of language sounds too strong for us and it is no wonder we are not surprised that the disciples cry out, "This is a hard teaching Lord!" and many decide to turn away!

What about you and me?? Are we going to turn away when we hear Jesus say these words about how we must "eat of his flesh and drink of his blood?"

Before we become too upset about this "difficult-sounding" teaching, let us consider why Jesus says this and what could be the effect of doing what Jesus says?? Actually it is our physical & spiritual "selves" that Jesus' words in today's Gospel lesson begin to address.

We live and have our very life breath, (our being) because God has created us to be physical and spiritual persons. The physical part of our being relates to our bodies. We are made up of bones, and muscles, and organs -- the heart for pumping the LIFE Giving Blood and our limbs, such as: hands, arms, legs and toes for doing things or going places. We tend to understand our bodies pretty well, some of us are more aware of the problems we are presently experiencing with our bodies . . . Legs that don't move as fast or as coordinated as they once did. The back that is not as strong nor as agile as it once was.

Most of us could write a book or two about our various ailments!! -- But we have to admit that: these old bodies have seen a lot of good use over the years. And . . . most of us are quite thankful for the numerous tasks that we have been able to accomplish, because we have been blessed with good health and strong limbs to do the many things we have experienced in life. Indeed, God has blessed many of you with special experiences that few people today will ever learn how to do or have the opportunity to experience . . . .

Your years of working with mules down on the farm, your first experience of driving a new car or a tractor, teaching your children to care for the home or feeding the chickens or learning how to work on farm equipment. Some of you built homes or worked in the shoe factory; raising your children was a lot of work(!) and a labor of love, some of you have worked in hospitals and laboratories, and others of you were typists or served our country as soldiers or were public servants -- even serving the Church as pastors and lay church workers. By the physical body you and I are entrusted with we are able to care for ourselves and care for others, because you had or (still have!) a healthy and able body you were and are still able to work and to enjoy recreation - the comforts of being a physical being.

So when we hear Jesus say, "Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them", We recognize that Jesus wants us to identify with his being with us (Abiding within us) in all of the physical aspects of our lives.

As we eat of Jesus flesh and drink of his blood we are becoming more like Jesus and Jesus is forming us from within to be more like himself. We take Jesus into ourselves when we Listen to his Word in the Holy Scriptures and when we eat bread and drink wine during Holy Communion we physically take Jesus into ourselves - it is a physical action with a spiritual connection. The Abiding Jesus knows and understands our physical aches and pains -- because he abides with us in the flesh, he is more and more a part of us as we daily walk with him.

On the other hand, there is a second part of our being that makes us who we are and regulates the way we do things -- each of us has a "mind." Our brain enables us to think about what we want to do. . . how we want to do it, and for what reason. We use our brain for thinking, imagining and making decisions about what we should do and how we should carry out our actions.

It is interesting in the end of today's Gospel story that Peter takes a moment to Think, and Peter Considers what is most important about Jesus in spite of this difficult teaching: After considering the difficulty of what it might mean to "eat Jesus' flesh and Drink his blood," Peter, "uses his head," and makes a profound decision: "Lord to whom shall we go? You have the Words of eternal life." Indeed, by being thoughtful, Peter has come to the right conclusion!

Through our thinking we get to know a lot about others, with this knowledge we can do good things and we can help other folks, yet we also know that with our knowledge, we sometimes we do bad things or we may tear others down. But whatever our intentions: the abiding Christ, who lives within us by the Holy Spirit, is always seeking to direct our thoughts and actions toward thinking and doing good toward our neighbors -- the Abiding Spirit of Christ seeks to reveal to us the Wisdom of God. In essence Christ says to us, "Take and eat my flesh and drink my blood and you will be filled and inspired by my being in you."

Now somewhere in between the mind and the body we understand ourselves to possess a spirit. This is the spiritual part of who we are and in our spiritual nature we understand ourselves to be children of God. It is from our spiritual self that we recognize ourselves to be members of God's family -- the Church! Christ gives us His Body and Blood as a kind of Spirit-filled food, ("The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life") and as we partake of Him we become spiritually stronger -and- we increasingly recognize the spiritual union that we share with all other Christians.

When we partake of the spiritual food that Christ offers to his brothers and sisters we recognize that we are participating in a kind of spiritual family, the Church, made up of all our brothers and sisters who are, not just "leaning on Jesus," but feeding on Jesus! We recognize all persons who have been "feeding on Christ," to be our true family members -- brothers and sisters in the faith. Thus, we grow in the spirit as we grow in faith and all of this is made possible by Jesus giving himself to us through the Word and by his living presence in the Sacraments.

Jesus offers his body and blood in order to nurture us -- not only to help us to grow in faith and in spirit, but Jesus comes to abide with us in the fullness of who we are -- Body, Mind and Spirit!

I can remember going to my Grandmother's house when I was a little boy. The trip always seemed so long and we would pester my Dad, "When are we going to get there?" Of course, it was always just another hour away. But the one thing that made all the waiting worth while was knowing that Grandma would be waiting for us with an apple pie she had baked.
Of course, when your mother or grandmother bakes you an apple pie there's something extra special about it. As you probably know, things that grandmothers make for their children and grandchildren have something extra special about them - it just tastes better than anything anyone else in the world could have made! It must be the love and the caring and the Wisdom that is baked into that pie that makes it so special. Perhaps this is just an "inkling" of what Jesus means when he says we must "eat his flesh and drink his blood." Partaking of the Lord's Supper and listening to God's Word are "extra special" because there is so much love outpoured to us in them.

Jesus wants us to take his whole presence into ourselves, in this way we become more like him. Just like when we ate Grandma's Apple Pie and recognized that is was more than flour and sugar and apples . . . (there was all of her love and caring baked in too!) So it is that when We eat the bread and drink the wine and listen with our ears in order to TAKE IN Christ. Then his Word becomes LIVING inside of us and we recognize that his Love is OUTPOURED to us, After all -- "You Are What You Eat!!"

And as recipients of the grace-filled meal of Word and the Holy Eucharist we begin to draw closer to Jesus and he draws CLOSER (nigh) unto us.

Now we're beginning to get closer to what Jesus meant when he challenged the disciples to eat his flesh and drink his blood. We need a steady in-filling of Jesus' word and presence in order to maintain a healthy spiritual life and continually develop and nurture our Faith -- this is Christ's Abiding and Living inside of us - it is spiritual - we must only embrace Christ within us, and it is physical, Christ is working in us and through our actions in the world.

So we must take and eat Christ as often as we gather, it is not just to remember him or to reenact what Jesus did, but it is to LIVE and MOVE and find our very selves -- Body and Mind and Spirit -- to be made alive and always growing into the fullness of who Christ is.

Let us pray, Come to us Lord Jesus, fill us to overflowing with your life giving body and blood, make in us the life giving power of the Gospel in order that we might go and share the Good News with others. Thank you Lord that you feed your children and give to us a full measure of the Holy Spirit, for it is in Christ's name that we pray.


Read more writings of Pastor Jon