John 6:53 So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”
Sometimes one verse gives a person much consternation. When one focuses on a particular passage of scripture, one can develop a slanted theology. Isn’t God merciful and loving? Wasn’t Christ against the religious fundamentalists of the day? Didn’t the Lord come to save sinners? Surely Jesus wasn’t saying that if you’re not worthily taking Holy Communion in a Catholic church you can’t go to heaven? But even in the context of this verse, particularly verses 50-60, you can’t help but get the idea that though this was a hard teaching of Jesus it is necessary. So the Eucharistic tradition of the Church: Christ is really present as the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the bread and wine is not to be ignored. Reject Jesus in the Pascal Sacrifice and you are turning your back on God. It is a Sacrament; It is given by Christ in person to the disciples who passed It on to us.
The whole sixth chapter is a particularly hectic day of the Lord. It starts off that so many people are listening to Jesus, logistics to feed them leave the disciples at a loss. But the Lord multiplies bread in order to feed five thousand, with some leftover. That night was very stormy and Jesus actually walked on water to reach the disciples boat to ensure a safe crossing of the sea. However, especially from verse twenty-two until the end of the chapter, fifty verses in all, despite the protests of the disciples and desertion of many, Christ seems unwavering in this groundwork for the institution of the Bread of Angels at the Last Supper.
Today is the Feast Day of St. Teresa of Avila, also known as St. Teresa of Jesus. The Carmelites of her day, like the rest of the Catholic Church of that time, were very lax. Unlike the Protestant Reformers who denied the Real Presence at Mass and left the church, Teresa worked within her Order to bring about reform. Teresa faced much opposition from them. She courageously succeeded in strengthening the Faith and called all to a new time of holiness. Any time we want to say there are many ways to God, let us remember that we must go through the narrow door.