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This Sunday's Programme

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Body and Blood of the Lord A

Sunday 11th June 2023

The Gospel Paraphrased

There are many fine translations of the Gospels readily available. This paraphrase is not meant to replace them. Rather the intention here is to offer a more contemporary rendering so that you can imaginatively translate the Gospel in your own situation.

This Sunday's Gospel Paraphrased

Jn 6: 51-58

After Jesus had feed the large crowd by the miracle of the loaves and fishes, he spoke to them on the meaning of this sign. Drawing on the story of the manna in the desert, he presented himself as the new manna, coming down from heaven that would give eternal life.

He then went on.
I am the living bread that has come down from heaven.
If anyone eats this bread, that person will live for all time.
In fact, this bread which I give is my flesh given for the life of the world.

Fighting broke out amongst the Jews when they heard this:
‘How can this person give us flesh, his flesh, to eat?’

So Jesus went on: ‘I’m telling you seriously and I mean it,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man
and drink of his blood
you will not have life in you.
The one consuming my flesh and drinking my blood
has eternal life
and I will raise that person up on the last day.
For my flesh is the truest food,
and my blood the truest drink.
The one consuming my flesh, drinking my blood
remains in me and I in that person.
As the living Father sent me –
and I live because of the Father –
so will the one consuming me live because of me.
This is the bread coming out of heaven.
Unlike the bread our forbears had
which they ate and still died,
this bread will make the one consuming it live forever.’


The Psalms are the ancient prayers of the Jewish people, here paraphrased into contemporary language.

This Sunday's Psalm

Ps 147:12-15,19-20

Extol God, O Jerusalem,
Praise your God O Zion,
for God strengthens the bars of your gates
and blesses the people within you.

God gives peace on your borders
and feeds you with the best wheat.
God’s commands are sent swiftly
to the ends of the earth.

God has revealed the divine words to the people of Jacob
the law, the decrees to the nation of Israel.
God has not done this for any other nation.
They were not given the divine law.



Words cannot contain our desire for God but they help direct our minds and hearts towards God's love and express our needs.

This Sunday's Prayer

Loving God, the mystery of your love is beyond us. You show us the depth of your love in the giving of your Son in the Body and Blood of the Eucharist. As we are feed from his very life may we be drawn even more into your life and recognise the power of your Spirit alive in our lives. We ask this in Jesus’ name confident that your will hear us.


The Commentaries Summarised

As a Church we are in a web of wisdom that comes to us both from tradition and contemporary writers. This section offers a summary of some commentaries on the Gospel. Also below is a list of the books and articles that have been consulted in compiling this Sunday's "Pray As You Can" and which could be used for further reading.

This Sunday's Commentary

As happens so often with the Gospel of John, what appears to be a straightforward, but challenging, text is far more complex and even more challenging than it first seems. The text before this Sunday’s reading refers to the giving of manna in the desert, the new manna that Jesus will give, the offer of eternal life and the promise of being taught by God. Jesus’ hearers react to this good news with growing hostility, which breaks out again strongly in their reaction to Jesus’ offer of his flesh to eat. When they object sharply to this offer, Jesus makes it even more extreme by insisting that it will be his flesh _and_ his blood that they must eat. For blood to be separate from flesh, violence must take place. Not only is this food prepared violently, the Jewish faith specifically forbade the eating of blood. One can well sympathise with Jesus’ hearers. This is supposed to be a gift of God!

Jesus then goes on to make it clear that sharing in this flesh and blood is integrally linked to sharing the eternal life that he offers and that this life flows from the living Father, comes through Jesus and returns to the Father. The violence of the flesh and blood that will be manifest in Jesus’ raising on the Cross is part of this current of life. The fact that this violence is a result of human sin does not deflect the life of God. No matter how glorious, how high, how spiritual the promises and theology are in the Gospel of John, the reality of human sin is never divorced from the reality of faith in God and the life offered in Jesus. In the sign of the flesh and blood, we see how seriously God deals with human sin. In our belief that the presence of Jesus, and hence the life of God, under those signs, we affirm the power of God’s grace to transform all of creation – even the negativity of sin.


Christian conversion is promoted by conversation. This section is a response to and a development on the knowledge gained from the commentary section.

This Sunday's Exposition

I found it difficult to write the paraphrase for this Gospel. In the Greek, Jesus first tells the people that they must eat his flesh, then in a shift of verb, that occurs again in the John’s Gospel at the Last Supper, he calls the people who eat him – ‘the ones munching on my flesh’ or ‘the ones crunching on my flesh’. Try as I may I couldn’t write that, it seemed so offensive – which it was to those listeners of Jesus. He did not back off from the ‘offensiveness’ of what he is saying by toning down his language.

There is another ‘offensive’ theme running through this Gospel – Jesus’ lifting up. What is being referred to is Jesus’ ignominious death. His death of the cross would be to the devout Jew, and to most others, the sign of utter rejection by God. It looks the farthest thing from a salvific event for the sake of the world.

This offensive language and imagery should give us grounds for serious thought concerning our understanding of the Eucharist. When we kneel in Eucharistic Adoration, the host may look quiet and serene, the candles, flowers and lights may give us a sense of peace and calm but contained in this Bread is the very power that will help us face and confront the hard and dark places of our hearts and, indeed, of our world. Being confirmed and steeped in a relationship with Jesus means that we draw our life from him. For us that will mean being conduits of the Father’s love for the world. Yes, we adore in peace, love and serenity not that we may feel good praying but rather that we may bring that goodness of God into our world.


Reflection is an essential element of our growth in Christ. As we reflect over what we have learnt and ponder it in our hearts, we come to recognise the presence of God in our lives.

This Sunday's Reflection

There was, and maybe still is, a piece of graffiti near Central Station in Sydney. ‘What you eat and drink today, walks and talks tomorrow.’ Behind the message is the recognition that what we eat affects what we become. Food becomes us.

The food that Jesus gives, his very Body and Blood, works in the opposite way. This food does not become us, rather we are transformed into this food. Just as Jesus draws his life from the Father, this food will make us draw life from Jesus. With this food we become what we eat. It is a power for unity in our lives – firstly, with God and then, with other people. It is a power that we can draw on in the ordinary circumstances of life – and in the extraordinary and difficult situations we have to deal with.

In many religions, food offerings, usually the first or the best food, are made to the gods. In the Eucharist, it is God who makes the offering to us….and it is the finest food…but with a twist on our understanding of what is best. The separation of the Body and the Blood reveals that this is a sacrifice and one that cost more than a little. Rather it cost Jesus what was most precious for him– his very life. His sacrifice was a violent death that resulted from human sinfulness. In the Eucharist Jesus offers this sacrifice to us as a food that can sustain in the difficult situations of life: in the experience of loss, of illness, of marital problems, of personal failure and in the face of sin. The presence of Jesus’ life is not meant to be something we encounter only when we attend Sunday Eucharist but rather it is a grace for good that we can consciously draw on throughout our week and beyond. Jesus wants to give us the richness of God’s life in all the circumstances of our lives but he will not force this upon us. In what ever happens to us, we need to put out our hand, receive his ‘food’ and say ‘Amen’.

Visual Meditation

Looking at art works or movies is a great way to open ourselves to the meaning of the Gospels. Seeing can bypass our preconceived notions, giving us new vistas of enlightenment. With painting or sculpture one needs to sit quietly and absorb the dynamics of the piece. The drama of movies more easily engages us and offers a way to conversation about the Gospel with other members of your family.

This Sunday's Visual Meditation

Feeding of the Five Thousand from The Taymouth Hours 14C.

Feeding of the Multitude from Daniel of Uranc Gospel 1433.

– Francis Hoyland’s Elements of Communion shows the presence of the Eucharist in daily life.

– The background to this Sunday’s Gospel is the Feeding of the Five Thousand.  This painting is by John Reilly.

Mulling Meditation

The purpose of mulling meditations is to offer a few ideas that one can mull about while doing other occupations. There are many things we do in our day that do not require our full attention - some things which are largely done on automatic pilot - like driving a car or peeling the potatoes. While we give these our attention, part of our mind is still at work mulling on other things and unless it is given something positive to feed on, we easily feed on negative thoughts. Personally I find mulling time the most likely time for God to get through to me. Because I am not so conscious of myself, God gets through the cracks and opens my heart to look at life differently.
Two practical times for mulling can be when exercising and when driving. Some small preparations for integrating such prayer into these exercises can be helpful.

As you do your preparatory stretches, pray the line of the Psalm "I praise you God for I am wonderfully made!"
Similarly when doing your concluding stretches use the prayer of St Clare "Praised be you, my God, for creating me!"

Have some music that you find helps you turn you mind and heart to God and play that for the first 10 minutes or so of your trip.

This Sunday's Mulling Meditation

In the Eucharist, Jesus shows how close he desires to be with us. The act of eating his Body and drinking his Blood is our way on confirming that we too wish to live in close intimacy with him.

During this week, mull on his presence in the daily events of life.
Try to make his companionship a quiet reality in various jobs you do.
As you met people, remind yourself that this person is made in God’s image and is passionately loved by God.
Do not be frightened by difficult circumstances but mull on how Jesus’ love overcame even the horror of his death.
Allow his presence to guide you through this week.

Mirror Meditation

In the Letter of James, we are told that the Scriptures are like a mirror in which we can see ourselves. In this type of meditation we take a piece of Scripture, hold it before us and consider what echoes within our heart. These echoes help us to see who we are before God and how we are loved. What usually echoes in us are situations that we are dealing with in our lives. When something strikes us, we do not actively try to solve the situation or work it through. Rather we sit holding it in God's love. The point of such a meditation is to make space within the situation for God's love to be. In 'sitting with' such a situation, painful or sad, we come to recognise the love of God that is at work on our lives. The suggestions for Mirror reflections can also be used for Exercise reflections but wouldn't be advised for Driving Prayer as often some degree of emotion or distraction might rise in such prayer.

This Sunday's Mirror Meditation

Sit quietly with your God, resting in the divine love.

Recognise that in the Eucharist Jesus shows how close God wants to be with us, healing and loving us.

What are the parts of yourself that you want to close off from God? What causes you shame or embarrassment? Resting in God’s love, bring out one part of yourself and hold it between you and God. Simply say to yourself – God wants to love this too…and let it be there. Let it be there and let God’s love deal with it in God’s own time.

Continue to rest in God’s love.