we saw how the Eucharist is rooted in the Jewish celebration of Passover. Christ is the new Passover Lamb that was sacrificed in atonement for our sins. We also looked at how the Eucharist is not just a Sacrament in that it makes Christ present, but in the Eucharist, Christ is truly present.
But why bread?
For people in the times of Jesus bread was really important. Bread was the staple. Bread was more than symbolic of food; for many, bread was the only food. And Jesus used images of bread in his teachings all the time: He multiplied the loaves and the fish; he used the image of yeast and wheat in parables. He even fed people bread. But then one day he told them that He was the bread come down from heaven. People knew that the “bread come down from Heaven” was the “manna” that God sent the Israelites in the wilderness when they complained to Moses that there was no food (see Exodus 16), but they didn’t understand what Jesus meant. So Jesus said,
“I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate manna in the desert, and they died... I am the living bread come down from heaven so that one may eat of it and not die... Whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (See John 6:48-51)
Now this may have been a bit weird, but it was very clear. People understood that He was talking about eating his flesh. Jesus didn’t need to clarify by saying, “no, no, I don’t mean literally
eat my flesh.” No, instead He said again,
“Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood will have eternal life and I will raise them up on the last day.” (See John 6:53-58)
It was very clear and people understood what He meant because many who heard it said, “this teaching is difficult; who can accept it” and Jesus said, “the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” (See John 6: 60-63) And because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him.” It is very clear that Jesus meant what he said – difficult or not, we need to eat his flesh.
He is the bread of life.
For the Jewish people, bread symbolised food and nourishment. God sent bread to the Israelites in the desert so they would not be hungry. For that spiritual hunger that all of us have, God sends the kind of nourishment that will take our hunger away forever: His Son. Jesus is the bread from heaven. He is the bread of life.
Come back next week
and we will look at the Mass and Eucharistic Adoration.
This is Part 2 of a four-part series. Read Part 1, Part 3, and Part 4.
Every week, Deacon Pedro takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching: firstname.lastname@example.org @deaconpedrogm