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June 7, 1996     The Message
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TheMessage -- for Catholics of Southwestern mentary-- flesh, drinking blood: Startling novelty or fulfillment? for ms Christi - and Blood of Jesus Cycle A: John 6:51- gospel reading for Corpus the final editorial addi- long sermon of Jesus Upon the miracle of ad people with bread in the Gospel this miracle oc- gospels, only in by a long ex- sermon which has be- as "the Eucharistic Discourse." It is there are two parts to this sermon at- to Jesus. The first part speaks of the true down from heaven. Those who eat promises, will never again r thirst and will come to resurrection and John is not writing about the Eucharist ;of the sermon. The subject is Jesus' who listen to, absorb, and act upon of Jesus are promised resurrection and this have been a startling revelation or Jews of Jesus' time or of John's perhaps, but certainly not without stament preparation. That in a statement from today's Deuteronomy 8:3 .... He fed you with you did not know, nor did your fa- he might make you know that one by bread alone but by everything that the mouth of the Lord." The words roceeds from the mouth of the a reference to the Torah or Law of Moses, B(N FATHER DILGER COLUMNIST the revelation given to the people through Moses on Mt. Sinai. For the authors of Deuteronomy the manna eaten by the Israelites in the wilderness has come to symbolize the teaching they received in the wilderness. Those who live by that Torah are told: "It is your life, Deuteronomy 33:47 The Israelites needed not only food but also water, as the authors of Deuteronomy write: "He brought you water out of the flinty rock." This water also came to symbolize the Torah or Moses' teaching of God's revelation. St. Paul brings the manna and the water in the wilderness together as spiritual food and drink in I Corinthians 10:1-4. Where did Paul get this? Was the water as Torah or teaching already present in the Old Testament just" as the manna was interpreted in Deuteronomy 8:3 cited above? Not specifically but the idea of the water in the wilderness interpreted as the wisdom of God was well known in the first century and was developed by the great Jewish scholar Philo, a con- temporary of Jesus and Paul. In turn, the wisdom of God was equated with the Torah or teaching of Moses in Sirach 24:23. Eating and drinking Torah, teaching, or wis- dom, is a well known concept in the Old Testament. For example, Sirach 24:21, "They who eat me will hunger for more. They who drink me will never have to blush." The Gospel of John goes beyond this and speaks of the teaching of Jesus as that which completely satisfies, so that one never thirsts again, John 4:14. Thus when John in the first part of the Eucharistic Discourse speaks of Jesus' teaching as food from heaven that replaces or perfects the Torah, he is still on ground familiar to a Jewish or Jewish-Christian audience of his time. The difficulty comes in the second part of this sermon when the subject changes from Jesus' teach- ing to "the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world." Then comes the triple insistence on eating the flesh and drinking the blood Of Jesus in words embarrassingly graphic. For the Jews and Jewish-Christians of John's time and for us this is a difficult step. For John's theology this is not diffi- cult. The words or teachings of both Moses and Jesus are referred to as food and divine wisdom as food and drink. But for the theology of the Gospel of John Jesus taught not only the words of God but was himself the ultimate expression of God, the Word of God in human flesh and blood. It is this that John insists a Christian must eat and drink, not only the teaching of Jesus but Jesus himself. We call this a "sacramental" eating and drink- ing, i.e. the elements of bread and wine in some way not only symbolize but contain the body and blood of Jesus, God's ultimate Word and teaching. This is what we celebrate on the feast of Corpus Christi. He is truly present and honored in the Eucharist both in the eating and drinking and in his presence in the Eucharist reserved in the tabernacle. We may not have reached the final or best way of expressing this reality, but we need to say with Peter in re- sponse to Jesus' question whether his closest disci- ples would leave him because of his insistence on eating and drinking his body and blood: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." To which we may add: "You not only have the words of eternal life, but you are the Word that brings eternal life." As it was said of the Torah, "It is your life," so it is said of the final Torah, Jesus as Word of God, "He is your life." Readings for Corpus Christi, A: Deuteron- omy 8:2.3, 14.16; I Cor 10:16.17. SHOP nment g Given B ingt0n, IN JOHN MANGIN Owner Corner South IN 47501 Home: 254-3087 Ik Arrangements ,E. 5th Street Indiana 47501 0054-7200 Street Lacy I Golden Jubilarians Theodore and Dorothy (Wigand) Linette of Jasper will cel- ebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary with a Mass of Thanksgiving at 10:30 a.m. June 9 at St. Mary Church, Ire- land. A dinner for the immediate family and attendants will be served at the St. Mary Community Center. An Open House will be held from 1 to 4 p.m.. The couple requests no gifts. They were married June 11, 1946, at St. Mary Church by Father Louis Becker. They are the parents of four sons: William of Jasper, and Richard, Melvin and Mike, all of Ire- land. They have 13 grandchildren. Mr. Linette retired from AristoKraft after 18 years of service. 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