19th Sunday in Ordinary Time—Year B

Jesus says, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” Some people respond, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother? Then how can he say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”

Yes, Jesus is indeed the son of Mary, and the adopted son of Joseph. But Jesus also came down from heaven, just as He said.

Jesus says, “I am the living bread … whoever eats this bread will live forever and the bread that I will give, is my flesh….” Some people respond, “How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat?” They take Jesus at His word, and conclude this must mean cannibalism.

Yes, Jesus insists, they must indeed eat His flesh. But Jesus will not make them cannibals, giving them a portion of his dead flesh to eat. He will offer, as food to them, His entire, living person: His body, blood, soul, and divinity.

Jesus says, “Take this, all of you, and eat it. This is my body.” Some people respond, “This has to be symbolic.”

Yes, there is symbolism here. For instance, to separate something’s body from its blood is a symbol of death And Jesus’ decision to use food and drink is also symbolic. It indicates how important this sacrament is for our spiritual life. But the Eucharist is not just a symbol; it is Christ’s Real Presence.

We are not idolaters. We do not worship bread. We do not worship bread and Christ. We worship Jesus Christ, really present, under the appearances of bread and wine. This is the truth we have celebrated for 20 centuries. This is the faith of the Church. This is the teaching of the Scriptures. This is the joy of the saints.

Some people say, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” And many of Christ’s disciples separate themselves from Him. Jesus says to his apostles, “Do you also want to leave?” But St. Peter responds with faith, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Let not your faces blush with shame at this mystery of the Eucharist. Look to him that you may be radiant with joy. Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed the man who takes refuge in him.

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