The next month is dominated by Jesus’ “bread of life” discourse in the book of John. For four weeks we are invited, again and again, to enter the mystery of how an incarnate God becomes real food for those who hunger. As Christians we are called to be Christ’s body; Jesus assures us that by consuming his body we too are consumed, and transformed, so that we in turn can transform the world—from death to life, despair to hope, exclusion to welcome, and judgment to mercy.
Like all great mysteries, the teaching is meant to be entered into and lived rather than intellectualized. In the words of theologians Richard Rohr and Joseph Martos, “We can never grasp a mystery; we can only allow ourselves to be grasped by it. That kind of surrender … is needed if we are ever to receive the gift of Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist.” It is proof that through the most humble and basic of foods, God has yet again found a way to be presence and present to us and to the world.
Finally, it is no coincidence that Jesus welcomed sinners and was welcomed by them at the table. Sharing food was always a joyous occasion for Jesus, through which he rejected oppressive social and religious laws and extended God’s boundless mercy and love. This feast has become both sacrament and sacred: the unique time and space in which we receive God as bread, and then joyfully share God with the world as the body of Christ.
Michaela Bruzzese, a Sojourners contributing writer, lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Food that Endures
2 Samuel 11:26-12:13; Psalm 51:1-12; Ephesians 4:1-16; John 6:24-35