Today's gospel is from John chapter 6, the teaching on the Holy Eucharist, the "Bread of Life." Jesus' meaning is unmistakable for those "with eyes to see and ears to hear." Only by ignoring what He says, can anyone believe that He is speaking in symbolic terms.
Say a prayer to the Holy Spirit and listen to His words:
"I myself am the living bread come down from heaven. If anyone eats this bread he shall live forever; the bread I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world.... [At this point the Jews begin to murmur and quarrel about His meaning so He reaffirms it.] 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."
Does this sound like symbolic language? Jesus goes on becoming more and more explicit, "He who feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has life eternal, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood real drink. The man who feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him....Unlike your ancestors who ate and died nonetheless, the man who feeds on this bread shall live forever."
One must be willfully disbelieving to think this language is talking about a symbolic meal. How can that be? Many disciples left Him because of his insistence that His "flesh is real food" and His "blood is real drink." Why would they leave if He was speaking symbolically? And why do so many Christians believe this misinterpretation when their own common sense should speak the truth to their hearts?
Jesus was not a liar. When He says He is the Messiah Christians believe Him. When He says He is the Son of God; they believe Him. Why don't they believe His profession that "My flesh is real food?"
This is the essence of the Catholic doctrine of the REAL PRESENCE and it is the meaning of the daily bread we beg from God in the Our Father. God loves us so much that He remains with us today on the earth in every tabernacle in the world and He comes down from heaven at the Consecration of every Catholic Mass. He invites us to become part of His mystical body by eating His flesh and drinking His blood so that we might become more united to Him and "live forever."
When He showed His wounds to Thomas the week after His resurrection Jesus said, "Be not disbelieving, but believe." Today He calls all men in the same way to have faith in His Real Presence on the earth. Won't you respond as Thomas did? "My Lord and My God."
"If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts."