To Eat and To Be Eaten

– Friday 3rd week of Easter –

“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 have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day.”  [John 6:53-54]

There is something alarmingly physical about Jesus’ words today. So much so that there is no
getting around it by toning them down. When contemplated in all their rawness they have the potential to turn our stomachs.


We forget that one of the main charges levelled at early Christians, to justify their ongoing and harrowing persecution, was that they were cannibals. Premised on a misunderstanding of texts like today’s, the equivalent of the ‘fake news’ of the day claimed Christians enlisted converts by threatening to murder and eat the children of those who resisted. As current rhetoric out of Russia to justify the murder of innocents in Ukraine reminds us, it is easy to distort the truth when it suits our agenda.


But there is no getting around the words that Jesus puts before us today. It points us to the visceral nature of our faith. Ours is not a faith for those who like things ‘nice’. Jesus invites us beyond an insipid and superficially consoling experience of him, and challenges us to recognise that we are pulled into his very being and he is to be invited into the centre of ours. Take and eat.


Yet so easily we resist, unsure if and how to respond. That’s what we take to prayer. 


by Shane Dwyer

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