In the Lectionary

August 19, Ordinary 20B (John 6:51-58)

Communion is not the only time we seek Jesus like a hungry baby.

The first time my six-year-old son saw me breastfeeding his baby sister, he was amazed at the fact that food was coming out of my flesh. He was also impressed to see how desperately his baby sister looked for me when she was hungry, which was very often. One day he said, “It seems that all she wants to do is to eat from your body.”

This is the kind of relationship that Jesus wants us to have with him. He wants us to seek him like a hungry baby seeks her mama’s breast. “My flesh is true food and my blood is true drink,” Jesus says in this week’s Gospel reading. “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me and I in them.”

When Jesus talks in the Bible about eating his flesh and drinking his blood, we tend to think about the Lord’s Supper. In the sacrament, the ordinary elements of bread and juice are transformed by the invocation of the Holy Spirit over them into sacred symbols and instruments of God’s salvific plan. The words and images used in the communion liturgy teach us that this is not an ordinary meal; it has an eschatological meaning. By linking it with the name and story of Jesus, this meal becomes the Lord’s Supper, the heavenly banquet.