Bread of Life discourse explained by Bishop Sheen


 

The Bread of Life“: Jesus Christ;

By Archbishop Fulton Sheen

….

John the Baptist whose task and privilege it was to announce the Messiah of God

John 1:29, 36 “The next day, John saw Jesus coming to him, and he proclaimed: Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sin of the world. And beholding Jesus walking, he proclaimed: Behold the Lamb of God.”

“Christ words became more poignant because this was the season of the Passover. Though the Jews looked on blood in an awesome manner, they were leading their lambs at that time to Jerusalem, where blood would be sprinkled to the four directions of the earth. The strangeness of the utterance about giving His body and Blood diminished against the background of the Passover; He meant that the shadow of the animal lamb was passing, and its place was being taken by the true Lamb of God. As they had communion in the flesh and blood of the Pascal Lamb, so now they would have communion with the Flesh and Blood of the True lamb of God. He who was born in Bethlehem, the “HOUSE OF BREAD” and was laid in a manger, a place for food of food for lower animals, would now be to men so inferior to Him, their Bread of Life. Everything in nature has to have communion in order to live; and through it what is lower is transformed into what is higher: chemical into plants, plants into animals, animals into man. And man? Should we not be elevated through communion with Him Who came “came down” from heaven to make man a partaker of the Divine nature? As a Mediator between God and man, He said that, as He lived by the Father, so they would live by Him.

John 6:58 “

As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me.”

How carnal was the eating of manna, and how spiritual was the eating of the flesh of Christ!

It was far more intimate living by Him than a baby’s living by the nourishment supplied by the mother. Every mother to every child at her breast can say, “Eat, this is my body; this is my blood.” But actually the comparison ends there; for the mother-child relationship, both are on the same level.

In the Christ-human relationship, the difference is of God and man; heaven and earth. Furthermore, no mother has ever had to die and take on a more glorious existence in her human nature before she can be the nourishment of her offspring. But our Lord said that He would have to “give” His life, before he would be the Bread of Life to believers. The plants which nourish animals do not live on another planet; the animals that nourish man do not live in another world. If Christ was then to be the “Life of the World,” [John 6:52] He must be tabernacled among men as Emmanuel of “God is with us,” supplying a life for the soul as earthly bread is life for the body.

It was madness for any man to offer his flesh to eat

. BUT they were not long left in the dark as our Lord corrected them, saying that, not a mere man, but the “Son Of Man” would give it. As usual that title referred to the expiatory sacrifice He would offer. NOT THE DEAD CHRIST would believers feed upon, BUT THE GLORIFIED CHRIST  [

my emphasis]in heaven Who died, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven. The mere eating of the flesh and blood of a man would profit nothing [explaining John 6: 63-64] ; but he GLORIFED Body and Blood of the “Son of Man” would profit unto eternal life. As man died spiritually by physically eating in the Garden of Eden, so he would live again SPIRITUALLY  through eating the fruit of the tree of LIFE.

 

Christ words were too literal, and he cleared up too many false interpretations, for any of His hearers to claim that the Eucharist {OR Body and Blood he would give} was a mere symbol, or that it’s effects depended upon the subjective dispositions of the receiver.

it was our Lords method whenever someone misunderstood what He said to correct that

understanding, as He did when Nicodemus thought “born-again” meant reentering his mothers womb. But whenever someone correctly understood what he said, but found fault with it, He repeated what he said. [My emphasis] AND IN THIS DISCOURSE, OUR LORD REPEATED FIVE TIMES WHAT HE SAID ABOUT His Body and Blood. The full meaning of these words did not become evident until the night before He died. In His last will and testament, he left that which on dying no other man had been able to leave, namely, His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, for the entire world.

 

PART TWO

The Refusal to Be a Bread King

The announcement of the Eucharist produced one of greatest crisis of His Life. His promise to give His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity caused Him to lose much that He had gained. Until now He had almost everyone behind Him: first, the masses of the common people; next the elite, the intellectuals and religious leaders, and finally His own Apostles. But this lofty spiritual doctrine was too much for them. The announcement of the Eucharist cracked His followers wide open. No wonder their has been such a division of sects in Christianity when each man decides for himself whether he will accept a segment of the circle of Christ truth or the whole circle. or Lord himself was responsible for this; He asked a faith too much for most men; His doctrine was too sublime. If only he had been a bit more worldly – minded, if he had only allowed His WORDS

[my emphasis] to be treated as figures of speech, and if only He had been less imperative he might have been more popular.

But He rocked His followers. Calvary would be the hot war against Him; this was the beginning of the cold war. Calvary would be the physical Crucifixion; this would be the social Crucifixion.

He lost the masses

He created a schism among His disciples

He even weakened His Apostolic band.

He lost the masses: the masses were generally interested only in wonders and security. When He multiplied the loafs and the fishes, he startled their eyes. When he filled their stomachs He satisfied their sense of social justice. THAT WAS THE KIND OF KING THEY WANTED

[my emphasis] A BREAD KING. “What else can religion do for man, anyway, except give him social security?” they seemed to ask. The masses tried to force Him to become a king. That is what Satan wanted too.  Fill gullets, turn stones into bread, and promise prosperity — this is the end of living for most mortals.

But our Lord would have no kingship based on economics of plenty. To make him king was the Fathers business, not theirs: His Kingship would be hearts and souls, not digestive tracts. So the Gospel tells us He fled to the mountains Himself alone, to escape their tinsel crown and tinsel sword.

How close the masses were to salvation! They wanted life; He wanted to give life. the difference was in their interpretation of “LIFE.”

end quotes.

 

Amen! ?

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