Jesus said: “‘I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.’”
When Jesus said this some people started freaking out because they realized that Jesus sure didn’t sound like he was speaking metaphorically. Jesus heard them yapping nervously and told them to quiet down and listen up.
He spoke again and made doubly sure everyone understood what He was saying. “Amen, Amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.”
Then the folks really freaked out. Much hoopla and consternation ensued. A bunch of people skedaddled over the people in the cheap seats and high-tailed it out of there. The interesting thing to note is that Jesus didn’t call them back and say He was just kidding or that he was speaking metaphorically. He wasn’t.
He said “Amen, Amen I say to you” not “Metaphorically metaphorically I suggest that if you kinda’ sorta eat the flesh…”
I’m sure the Eucharist has been used in metaphors before but Dr. Richard R. Gaillardetz, a Catholic theologian seems to go a step further in his lecture called, “Eucharist, Hunger and the Destruction of the Planet: Can a Religious Ritual Heal the World?”
The answer to that would seem to be a resounding “Yes.” But sadly, Dr. Gaillardetz seems intent on fitting Jesus into a metaphor. And his lecture seems not to focus at all on what the Eucharist actually is which is the body and blood of our Lord.
Gaillardetz, according to The Independent Collegian, employs the Eucharist as a metaphor for feeding the poor and saving the planet.
He said the examples of the values Jesus displayed at the Last Supper can be utilized by Christians and non-Christians as a way to relieve earth’s social and environmental dilemmas…
Gaillardetz explored the link between worship and ethics by explaining how the Eucharist is a ritual enactment of the Christian practice to feed the hungry and poor… He used the example of Jesus giving bread and wine to his disciples to convey how God gave humans the planet. “The gifts are those of a cooperating relationship between man’s works of the hand with the earth; grain and grapes were not given but rather the product of both with the help of humans,” he said…
All of that just seems kind of beside the point that in the Eucharist lies the salvation of the world?
But when a member of the audience asked about the idea of religion healing the world being “an extreme view,” Gaillardetz said “he knows religion is not the answer to fix everything, but the ideas embodied by Christianity are a step in the right direction for Christians and non-Christians alike.”
Just a reminder, Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life.” He didn’t say, “I’m a step in the right direction.” Focusing on the Eucharist as metaphor for saving the planet seems to me to be a step in the wrong direction.