“How can this man give us his flesh to eat … .? “ Jn 6:52-59
There are people questioning Christianity, and they obviously do not get it. They have not a clue, and this gospel passage makes this painfully obvious. They do not understand Christ as the second person of the trinity, they do not understand God as man, they do not understand a crucified God, and I doubt they can comprehend the resurrection. Easter. Paul, Saul; that apostle to the gentiles; is one of the clueless. The first reading is testament to his ignorance to Christ, and also leads into his persecution of the followers of the way. “The Way” the earliest title of this new religion. Something to be examined in the future.
But that is not the point. The point is the misunderstanding of the religion established by Jesus Christ. Two thousand plus years ago they could not comprehend it. Paul, aka Saul, eventually got it. He figured it out, or it was brilliantly revealed to him. Acts 9:1-20
He then spent a tortious lifetime explaining “the way” to others. Part of this discussion is just about that. At first Paul did not get it, and then he got it. Once he got it, he was radically transformed. So radically transformed, he explained his discovery for the rest of his life. That, my friends, is profound. Christianity was the revelation of Paul’s life. Don’t neglect the impact Paul’s revelation had on him, please put that thought into contemporary terms. Please!
Look around the world today, how many eyes have been opened to the extent of Paul’s? So many on the television proclaim their transformation. I think fat people, and I am a fat person; but is that the same as Paul’s transformation? The transformative power of diet, people speak of it as a new religion. New Age, blah! Paul was martyred, how many willing endure martyrdom for a healthy lifestyle?
The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying,
“How can this man give us his Flesh to eat?”
Jesus said to them,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood,
you do not have life within you.
I can think of those who today die for Christ’s name, and there are many. I pray for them, and that I might be granted their strength. I look today for examples from popular society, and with a reason. The noblest martyrs of today are on a different page, a different discussion not to be diluted by todays thought.
My point, which I have taken long enough to get around to is this: If people could not understand Christ in the yesterday of 2000 years ago, how well do our contemporaries understand it today? How many view us as cannibals, or crazies today? How many view us as the outsiders, the fringe of society? How many understand our theology, our doctrines, or our sacraments? How many today can even understand what a sacrament is? The world has changed. How do we explain to our contemporary “new age” world who we are? How do we explain so that they might have the experience Saul had? The world has changed. Christians have endured a stealth persecution they rarely noticed. Their doctrines were diluted, and their identities assimilated. They were declared by the populist irrelevant, antiquated, backward, and unintelligent. How then do we explain to the self proclaimed decorated intellectuals who “the Man who gave us His Flesh” to eat is? That was the task of the first apostles, how does one approach that task today?
One can think back a couple decades, and even a few decades more. Christianity, popular and preached and proclaimed. Accepted and even promoted. “The Way” was good. But today? On the defensive and under attack. Defiled by modern social movements. Under attack by the press. Negated, villainized, ostracized. Separated from polite society. Saul, Saul why are you persecuting me rings aloud today. Christian social-persecution is here, in our society, today. There then is the question. How do we explain the risen Lord? How do we explain a God that demands we eat His Flesh to a self-described enlightened society? They don’t get it. Worse still is that they think that THOSE WHO DO should be stopped. Stopped, put in their place, silenced. How can this man give us His flesh to eat? Preposterous they exclaim! How do we explain?
Friday of the Third Week of Easter