These week’s gospel readings are taken from the sixth chapter of John’s gospel, a chapter which places emphasis on the Eucharist as the bread of life. What should have been a rallying point for all Christians has, unfortunately, been a source of division. Very quickly within the reformation, arguments ensued with the protestant community dealing with the nature of the Eucharist. Luther held to a position closer to the Roman Catholic idea while Zwingli and Calvin opted for a symbolic presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Interestingly, the Catholics held to their position on the Eucharist by quoting the bible, especially this chapter, citing the words of today’s Gospel:
I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give
is my Flesh for the life of the world.
Catholic apologists based their insistence on the Real Presence on direct gospel quotes and were quick to criticize those who argued otherwise as holding beliefs not found in scripture. Over the past 150 years, many protestant communities have placed a greater emphasis on more frequent reception of the Lord’s Supper, arguing that they are not becoming more Catholic, just more biblical, a stance the Roman Catholic Church never abandoned. This emphasis on the Eucharist as the Real Presence, plays a crucial part in the Gospel of John, the early Christian community, and the life of the Church. Keeping in mind this emphasis, we may take this opportunity to reflect on the role of the Eucharist in our lives, particularly our frequency in attending Mass and time spent before the Blessed Sacrament, The Bread of Life.