Allegory of the Eucharist,
Image by Alexander Coosemans (1627-1689),
Oil on canvas,
Painted in 1654
© Musée de Tessé, Le Mans, France

Allegory of the Eucharist,
Image by Alexander Coosemans (1627-1689),
Oil on canvas,
Painted in 1654
© Musée de Tessé, Le Mans, France

Gospel of 1 May 2020

My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink

John 6:52-59

The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" So Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me."

Reflection on the Painting

This  rather charming painting of the Allegory of the Eucharist features a juxtaposition of the following elements:

  • grapes of course produce the wine, referring to Christ and His Blood
  • the stalks of wheat refer to His Body and the Eucharistic Bread
  • the two cornucopia flanking the 17th-century chalice symbolise the generosity of Creation
  • the pomegranate symbolises eternal life and divine prosperity
  • the peaches represent virtue and honour
  • the pear halves are symbolic of marital faith
  • the single rose with its many petals represents the wounds of Christ

A gentle light is emanating from the Sacred Host, set with an embossed image of the crucifixion.

Our Gospel reading today starts with 'The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"' The people arguing show that our minds cannot always understand God, but our hearts can. Jesus in His replies tells us to move from the mind to the heart. He is not telling us just to simply accept His teachings, but He is inviting us to be fully drawn into His Life and that of His Father. He invites us to be all consumed by God. He invites us to let go of our reservations and hesitations and to trust fully in Him… through the Eucharist…

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