Preaching for the Holy Eucharist, International Congregation, on Aug 15 Sun, at St. Agnes’.
Jn 6:51-58 John Yutaka Kuroda
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood...
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable to you, Amen. (Ps. 19:14)
More than 20 years ago, in her later years, my mother used to look back on the past and say, “I used to fearfully listen to the saying that you boys come to the kitchen and tell me you were hungry.” Honestly, I could not understand what she was saying well. However, now, I can understand it better than at that time. This is because I can figure out how difficult it is to prepare supper for the seven members of the family every day.
There is a Japanese proverb, “Person becomes an adult biting parent’s shank.” This means that a human person becomes an adult, resulting in his parent’s enormous care. As I get older, I realize more and more that we grow up eating our parents' flesh and blood, their lives.
In addition, today is the anniversary of the end of the Pacific War. So, I am reminded of a passage from Kenjiro Haitani's novel “Rabbit's Eyes.” The elementary school teacher Adachi, who was orphaned in the war, left the following line. He said, “The people who are alive today are living by eating the lives of those who died in the war. Some of them look like they eat in pain, while others eat without a care in the world.”
It can be said that we who live today are supported and kept alive by the lives of our predecessors. When we think about this, we realize that Jesus’ words, “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood..." (verse 53), testify to something that is fundamental to our existence.
In August, while the Gospel of John is to be read successively, the starting point is the “The feeding of the Five Thousand.” Then, on the following Sunday, the true meaning of this bread event is revealed by the mouth of Jesus, even though the people around him do not realize it.
Today’s passage is the climax of the series of the Gospel narratives. Jesus says, “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day” (v. 54; see also v. 56).
If this is the case, then it was not the literal five loaves and two fishes that were shared in the “feeding of the Five Thousand,” but rather Jesus Himself, His blood and flesh. And furthermore, this fact makes us notice that not just 5,000 people, but a great number of people have been filled with his flesh and blood over the past 2,000 years.
In the same way that five loaves and two fishes are insignificant to 5,000 people, Jesus as a person and his death on the cross look like a few bubbles in the ocean of human history. Yet, such a being has given life to and filled the lives of countless people. And that grace is given to us, who live today, through the visible signs of the bread and wine of the sacrament. With this in mind, let us look up to the cross and resurrection of our Lord together with gratitude.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with us all evermore. Amen.