Reflection for Friday, April 23, 1999: 3rd week in Easter.

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Waldron, Maureen McCann
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When I was a child, I once went to a summer art program where we each colored an entire piece of paper with crayons. Next, we painted our wonderful colored drawings with black paint! I couldn't believe we were losing our wonderful rainbowed drawings. But a few minutes later when the paint had dried, we began to uncover the real artwork. Now, by taking a small sharp stick and "drawing" on the black paint, we uncovered the real colors underneath which showed through each line we made in the paint. The more we drew on the black paint, the more colorful and complete our artwork was, reflecting the colors at the base of the artwork.||I think of that experience when I see Jesus struggle to explain things to his disciples. First he tells them that he will be food for them. After listening to their puzzlement, he explains that he will be bread for them, the source of life. They still don't get it and so in today's gospel he draws them as clear a picture as he can, in language that is jarring in its directness.|"He who feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has life eternal."|His statement is unsettling to some, but what Jesus is really saying is what he has been saying to us all along: I am the source of your life. Leave aside the things that aren't important in this world and listen to my teachings. Let me into your life in this radical way and I will be with you in a whole new, deeply loving way.|I sometimes squirm at this language and wonder if he couldn't have made it a little ... well, less strong, maybe more polite. But then I realize that the disciples wouldn't have understood something more vague -- and neither would I. It's the strength of that body and blood image that grabs my attention and makes me look twice at what Jesus is really saying. If I feed on his flesh and drink his blood, Jesus promises me life eternal and says he will be with me. No, not just "with me" but something even more complex and profoundly loving: he will be in me and I will be in him. He is inviting me into a deeply personal relationship with him, to be in me and with me throughout all of my life, my pains and joys, my vulnerabilities and my weaknesses.|Now when I re-read the gospel and see the invitation to "feed on me" it seems joyously loving and forgiving of the many times when I will see only black paint on the paper and will fail to see clearly that very colorful and wholehearted invitation.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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