“ If you do not eat the flesh of the Son of man …you will not have life in you.”
A reflection by Sr Valery Walker
JOHN 6.60 – 69 Ben Ant. Sunday 21 “To whom shall we go, Lord? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and we know that you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Alleluiah! Our Lord says in today’s Gospel, “It is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh has nothing to offer.” And yet in last week’s Gospel we heard him say, “ If you do not eat the flesh of the Son of man …you will not have life in you.” Clearly, therefore, since the flesh offers life, but it is the Spirit that gives life, we must hold “flesh” and “Spirit” together and understand that by this union something new is brought about.
The “flesh” that we are considering is, of course, the body of Jesus, the Only Begotten Son of God. It is a true fleshly body, but one transposed into the realm of Heaven where the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, transforms, spiritualises, glorifies. He does so, not to make the flesh less fleshly, but, as Fr. Richard suggested, to make it more so. He made the point that when, after the resurrection, Jesus came into the room where the disciples were “hiding for fear of the Jews”, and came in without using the door or a window, it was not that his body was in some way ‘ghostly’, not at all. It was because, compared to the glorified material reality of Christ’s body, the door, the walls, the room were by comparison a faint, almost ghostly reality.
We find it hard to grasp the truth that the world we live in now, the material world that seems – and is – so solidly real and beautiful, is in fact a reflection of, a pointer to, a reality far more real and beautiful. Oddly enough, the second reading of today’s Office of Readings takes up something of the same theme. From the Second Vatican Council we hear: “ We do not know the moment at which the earth and mankind will have run their course. Nor do we know the way in which all things will be transformed.” How true! But we do know that it will be the ultimate fulfilment of bodily, material creation, when at the final resurrection of the dead we are raised into the glorious bodily, spiritual world of Jesus, of Our Lady, of saints and angels – of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit! Yes, “creation itself will be set free,” says St. Paul, “and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God.” “Only the Spirit gives life”, LIFE in capital letters, eternal and glorious and waiting for us all!