In ancient times bread was possibly the most important part of one’s diet, especially for those facing poverty. As a dietary staple, it was truly life-giving and life-nourishing. Still, the consumption of bread doesn’t slow down the aging process. It doesn’t prevent death, which approaches surely and relentlessly, as we mature in body and spirit.
How do you think you would have reacted to those startling words of Jesus: “If anyone eats this bread, he shall live forever”? Not only that, he identified this “bread of life” as himself, his own flesh and blood. Some people found that to be a “hard saying,” especially when he said that he was the bread that came down from heaven. It caused many of his disciples to walk away, and no longer follow him.
We are blessed with the gift of Faith, believing that Jesus meant exactly what he said. So we belong to that group of disciples who did not walk away. We recognise – as did Simon Peter – that Jesus has the words of eternal life, and that he is the Holy One of God.
This wondrous gift of the body and blood of Christ continues to be present to us, now in Sacramental form. When we come forward to receive Holy Communion, we need to recognise that the very act of “coming forward” itself is an expression of our faith in the Real Presence of Jesus. We believe that Jesus is truly present under the appearance of the consecrated bread and wine – not just as a symbol, but as a reality.
In that lies the promise of Jesus. This food for our journey back to God is also the food that strengthens us to continue the mission of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Believe; live out your belief; and receive eternal life! Jesus links faith in the resurrection to his own person, promising to raise up on the last day all those who believe, eat his body, and drink his blood. Christ makes himself wholly and entirely present under the sacramental forms or appearances of bread and wine.