Daily Thought For December 6, 2019

Does This Shock You?

     "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day; For my flesh is true food, 
and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father 
sent me and 1 have life because of the Father, so also the one, who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever." These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. 
     Then many of his disciples who were listening said; "This saying is hard; who can accept it?" Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, "Does this shock you?" 

- John 6:53-61, NAB 

     Jesus is obedience incarnate. He is nothing other and nothing less than everything the Father gives to him. To consume his 
words, his works, his example, and, in the end, to consume his very life - his body and blood - is to receive his uninterrupted obedience to the Father. Those who eat his flesh and drink his blood receive this direct gift through him, "that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me, and I am in you" (In 17:21, NAB). 
    Does it shock you that this gift would be so simple? Does it shock you that he gives what he receives and holds nothing back? Does it shock you that we who receive him receive everything? Does it shock you that his gift calms our jittery hearts and tames our wandering desires? Does it shock you that his life becomes our life, a life we are to share in common and give freely to others? 
     To receive Jesus can never be reduced to an intellectual exercise or an affair of the affections. He who receives everything from the Father and offers everything 'back to the Father gives everything of himself to us. To live means to receive from him and be transformed through his gift to give of our very selves in his company. 
     This saying is hard, indeed; who could accept it? Who could accept such a gift from anyone else, let alone from the one who is the Father's own love? Who could give themselves so completely in response to such a complete gift? I understand the disciples' murmurings. 
     Murmuring is what we do when we are dissatisfied, afraid, skeptical, or even outright cynical. Maybe it is right to assume that the disciples were scared by the apparent physicality of what 
Jesus says. But what is even scarier is standing before a gift so absolute, so full, that no partial reception will suffice. They are being drawn into total intimacy. 
     We shudder at all kinds of intimacy, when someone bares their soul to us and asks us to receive them, wholly and completely as they are. This happens rarely, but it is shocking every time. It is an invitation to receive this person. We are often inclined to hesitate, to stammer, to murmur. What a shocking gift. We fear intimacy; intimacy demands that we strip ourselves of our defenses, our guile, our lingering distrust. 
     The two in the garden of Eden were naked without shame, but the serpent was full of guile, the shrewdest of all creatures (cf. Gn 2:25-3:1). We have become accustomed to that guile, and we have forgotten how to stand before each other transparently; we prefer to hide ourselves from each other and from God. But in God there is no guile, only intimacy. Jesus gives himself in this kind of intimacy, in response to the intimacy of the Father's gift to him (and this intimacy is the Holy Spirit). And so Jesus speaks of baring himself to those who will receive him. To receive him will be to receive the one who sent him' (cf In 13:20). It means being drawn into that sacred intimacy. 
     The intimacy of Christ's gift strips us of our defenses, if only we will receive him, open to that intimacy. He will be our food, our drink, our communion within the eternal communion. 


Lord help me to receive what I lack. 

from A God Who Questions by Leonard J. DeLorenzo pp. 79-81


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