Reflection: Corpus Christi

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m.

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

Bible study/sharing every Saturday (2:00-4:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church, 5 Leicester Place WC2H 7BX (near See Woo Chinese Supermarket, Leicester Square tube station)

Talk and discussion meeting First Monday of every month (4:00-6:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church


[1st Reading – Deut.8:2-3, 14-16; Ps.147; 2nd Reading – 1Cor.10:16-17; Gospel – Jn.6:51-58]


If we were among those listening to Jesus, most probably we would have had the same reaction as the Jews in today’s gospel and like them, we would have thought along the lines of: ‘How can Jesus give us his flesh to eat and blood to drink? We are certainly not cannibals!!!’  It is not the first time that Jesus said something which, rather than taking the meaning literally, could only be understood if one was introduced to his teaching. It is not the same as some of the other examples of his teachings when he said that “he is the vine and we are the branches” … and that “we are the light and the salt of the earth”… These are examples that everyone can easily understand for the simple reason that they are just examples. In Jesus’ discourse today, he is not giving examples and instead he is giving statements i.e. He is saying what he really is! He says he is the bread of life and so, as bread, it is to be eaten. Therefore, if for the Jews it was difficult to understand, it was not because Jesus was saying something totally out of this world but because they did not believe in Jesus and so did not accept Jesus in their life.

The theme of ‘belief’ and of ‘having faith’ is at the basis of today’s gospel. Those who believed Jesus understood what he was trying to say. We know about the difficulties they faced around understanding Jesus’ true meaning there and then because they had yet to receive the help of the Holy Spirit to help them truly understand. But despite the difficulties they faced, they still accepted what Jesus was saying and, in doing so, paved the way for the Holy Spirit to come and dwell in them. Once they received the Holy Spirit they understood that Jesus ‘did give his flesh’ on the Cross, through which he gave his life ‘for the life of the world’. Therefore, the symbolism and parallelism that exist between Jesus’ life and the ‘living’ bread (i.e. himself) is so strong that we hear it again in the last supper when Jesus said, of his sacrifice: “Do this in memory of me”. ‘Memory’, in this case, does not mean only a ‘remembrance’. In the ‘memory’, Jesus is once again offering himself in sacrifice. Since Jesus offered his flesh for the life of the world and therefore also for us to have life too, then the only way for us to accept this sacrifice in our life, is to participate and ‘eat’ this ‘bread’ that he offers. All this has meaning if we believe that Jesus is truly the bread (i.e. sustenance) for our living. An important element of our faith is that we eat the bread which, in faith, becomes the flesh and blood of Jesus, and, through participating in this ‘eating’, we all become ‘one’ in Christ and with Christ.

“Lord, when I eat this bread, I know that I am not worthy that you should come to me. If you want to, help me to truly believe. Thank you Lord!”


Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo )

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