Benendict on the Flesh in Communion

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This came up this past week, so I thought that this might be a way to further the conversation –

Pope Benedict XVI
Homily for the Italian Eucharistic Congress, 29/05/05 (© Libreria Editrice Vaticana)

“My flesh is true food”

The Lord does not leave us alone on this journey. He is with us; indeed, he wishes to share our destiny to the point of identifying with us. In the Gospel discourse that we have just heard he says, “He who feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him”. How is it possible not to rejoice in such a promise? However, we have heard that at his first announcement, instead of rejoicing, the people started to murmur in protest: “How can he give us his flesh to eat?”.

To tell the truth, that attitude has frequently been repeated in the course of history. One might say that basically people do not want to have God so close, to be so easily within reach or to share so deeply in the events of their daily life. Rather, people want him to be great and, in brief, we also often want him to be a little distant from us. Questions are then raised that are intended to show that, after all, such closeness would be impossible. But the words that Christ spoke on that occasion have lost none of their clarity: “Let me solemnly assure you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you”.

In the face of the murmur of protest, Jesus might have fallen back on reassuring words: “Friends”, he could have said, “do not worry! I spoke of flesh but it is only a symbol. What I mean is only a deep communion of sentiments”. But no, Jesus did not have recourse to such soothing words. He stuck to his assertion, to all his realism, even when he saw many of his disciples breaking away… “Do you want to leave me too?”, he asked his apostles. Thanks be to God, Peter’s response was one that even we can make our own today with full awareness: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6: 66-68).

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One Reply to “Benendict on the Flesh in Communion”

  1. Some people are able to say that they can have God ‘so close’ without believing that the bread and wine is actually the flesh and blood of Jesus as they filled with the Holy Spirit and Jesus is with them. However, I believe that the bread and wine are more than just symbols.

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