Friday of the Third Week of Easter
The crowd came to Jesus to see if God truly was at work in Him, if He could set them aright on the path of God’s will. He saw their desire, He tested it when He saw the spark of faith in their hearts, and in answer to their prayer He revealed Himself to them: I am the bread come down from Heaven…the bread that I will give is my Flesh for the life of the world.
Jesus came down from Heaven in order to begin untying the knot of man’s sin, to undo what had been done in Eden eons ago. This week He has worked to reawaken our hearts to love God and desire to know Him, to one day restore to us the original holiness that Adam and Eve once enjoyed. They knew God because they saw Him, but because they loved Him. The hearts of those at Capernaum were open to such a love for God, and Jesus began to reveal who He is so that they might know Him beyond what they see. Today’s reading is the biggest reveal yet: I’m not here to give you life, but to be your life.
In Eden God gave mankind one commandment: do not eat of the tree. Today God tells us that unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, you do not have life within you. In Eden, to eat brought death; today it brings eternal life. Jesus desires us to know and love Him and unity is the deepest desire of any two lovers; here He presents the means by which Christ the Bridegroom (Jn. 3:29) His Bride the Church (Eph. 5:25-27) may become one flesh (Mt. 19:4-6), rejoining what sin had torn asunder.
To eat His Flesh and drink His Blood; is this not repulsive? There was, of course, the prohibition against consuming flesh with the blood in it (Lev. 17:10-14) but to consume the blood of a human being? Yet this is precisely what we must do, for the life of the flesh is in the blood; how else are we to receive the life of God into our fallen nature, fallen because of its separation? God gives us His life in the very same way we lost His life: by consuming food. The apple of Eden was the food of death because while it nourished the body it killed the soul; now Jesus offers food that will nourish the whole person for eternal life, for this food brings us into the very life of God or, as Jesus puts it: Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. The very same love of God that gives the Son life from all eternity will be given to us, for Jesus will give Himself in such a way that we may consume it as our food, literally as bread from Heaven.
Do you see what Jesus has done, what He continues to do at each Mass? There upon the Cross in a garden atop Golgotha (Jn. 19:41) the New Adam and the New Eve (Jn. 19:25) achieve our salvation through perfect obedience to God’s will, thus bringing life and blessing upon all their subsequent children in the Church (Jn. 19:26-27), whereas our first parents brought death and curse. In Eden we had to forsake the fruit of the tree in order to remain in union with God; now Jesus, the fruit of the Virgin’s womb hanging upon the Cross, a fruit that is not desirable to eat (How can this man give us His flesh to eat?), begs us to eat that we may be with Him for all eternity. Yet we must be wary of the serpent, for he who tempted Eve to eat of Eden’s tree is the very same serpent who tempts the Bride of Christ to turn away from the Cross and its life-giving fruit…