by Jose Kurian PuliyerilGospel Reading: St. John 6: 47 – 58
First sentence of today's reading proclaims our Lord's offer about the eternal life. "Verily, verily I say unto you, He that believes on me has everlasting life. We find a similar statement in St. John 3:16. (For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life) Here belief is mentioned as a matter of condition to achieve the everlasting life. We often claim that we all are believers of Orthodox faith in the understanding that we were born and brought up in this faith. At the same time we forget to give importance for the firm faith, conviction and thinking which are unavoidable for upholding a belief.
In verse 48, we find the unique declaration of our Lord and Savior, where we read, "I am the bread of life. " In the only prayer taught by our Lord, the so called Lord's prayer, we are obliged to pray for our daily bread. Actually our Lord meant that we should pray for the bread, which could provide us eternal life, without break and daily. Many of us are confused whether we are supposed to pray for the daily food (instead of bread, a few say food (Aaharam in Malayalam) when we recite the Lord's prayer. We must be particular about the word bread "Appam in Malayalam" instead of 'Aaharam. Our daily needs are granted by God as His free gift and we should not pray for them. In verse 50 our Lord has made the above idea more clearly. He says "This is the bread which comes down from heaven that a man may eat thereof, and not die." Unless and until we would partake the Holy Eucharist, we would not inherit the eternal life. That is why our Lord is saying "I am the living bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world".
When the Jews murmured "how he could give his own flesh" our Lord answered them "I say unto you, except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you" (verse 52) In verse 53 we find our Lord's solemn promise that He would raise the ones who might eat His flesh and drink His blood on the last day. In Verse 55 our Lord reveals that His flesh is real meat and His blood is real drink. That is why our Lord established the Holy Sacrament of Holy Eucharist and entrusted the Holy Church to continue until His second coming. We must have the real belief here. Our Lord insisted us to have the real belief in Him. If we have strong faith and belief in Him, we would definitely believe in His words and promises. We are supposed to learn more about our solemn service of the Holy Eucharist in detail. Even though we use the bread and wine for the Holy Eucharist service, we never call them bread and wife after placing them on the Altar. From the very moment of placing them on the Altar, they are Holy mysteries. The mystery of transforming the worldly food (bread) and drink (wine) as the life giving flesh and blood of our savior, takes place during the service. We must hold strong and staunch faith in the mystery. We must have faith that the Holy mysteries would be converted as the flesh and blood of our Lord and Savior, by the Grace and not materially.
In verse 56 we read our Lord's another promise that we could have an abiding life with our Lord, by consuming His flesh and blood. It is the will of God who created the first man on earth. When God created Adam as the crown of all the creation, God Almighty was living in him and he was in God. Such a state is the perfection of creation. When Adam disobeyed God, he was forced to leave the garden of Eden and God incarnated after so many years to re-instate Adam in his original place of being in God. God's love and compassion has given us the blessing of being in God. While we partake the Holy Eucharist, we obtain this great blessing. It is a great blessing that the Orthodox Churches are following the Holy Sacraments exactly in accordance with the teachings and instructions of our Savior Lord Jesus Christ. We must feel proud of being an orthodox Christian and we must be grateful to God for the rare blessing.
In verse 57 and 58 our Lord explains the difference between the ordinary bread and the heavenly bread of life. Let us make use of the opportunities available and lead a true virtuous life, which would be pleasing to our Lord God.
On the Road to Emmaus
by Rev. Fr. John Thomas Alummoottil
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