Friday, April 30, 2004
The Eucharist  

"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" (John 6:53-54).

Today's Gospel reading (John 6:52-59) includes our Lord's clear teaching on the Eucharist. Jesus listeners had asked an expected question, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" (6:52). Jesus replies that it is necessary for one to eat His flesh and drink His blood to have eternal life. He does not dissuade them from the idea that He means exactly what He says. They are thinking in a more crude way, but they are considering exactly what He means. He is talking about His real flesh and blood.

We can know Jesus is talking about His real flesh and blood from the verse which precedes today's reading. In John 6:51, Jesus states that, "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." Jesus is talking about His sacrifice on the cross in which He will sacrifice His flesh. Jesus' body hung upon the cross. He is talking about His real body being the bread which he offers to be eaten in order that one might have eternal life. Those in the synagogue in Capernaum understand what he means, and they ask the question of how He can accomplish this. Jesus answers their question by reinforcing the idea that He is giving them His real flesh and blood to be eaten in order that they might have eternal life.

This underscores the reality and the importance of the Eucharist. The Eucharist truly is our Lord. It is not imagined or symbolic. It is Jesus. That is why the Church is so concerned about the liturgy and the practices surrounding the Eucharist. Any abuse of the Eucharist is a direct attack upon Christ. For those who knowingly commit abuses, they are bringing condemnation upon themselves. Therefore, the Church issues documents like Redemptionis Sacramentum in order that we might know what we should and should not being doing.

The Gospel reading should also inspire us to be humble. Here, the Lord of Life is saying that He is going to completely give Himself to us who have been in rebellion against Him since the Garden of Eden. The Creator of the Universe has come down from Heaven, taken on flesh and blood, in order that He might give His flesh on the cross and then in the Eucharist. It was not enough for God to become Incarnate and lay down His life for our sins. He wants to perpetuate His Incarnation through the Eucharist which He has entrusted to the Church. He wants to be with us so much that He will make Himself available in the Real Presence of the Eucharist. He longs for us to eat His flesh and drink His blood in order that He might give us eternal life. In His mercy, He comes to us in the appearance of bread and wine in order that are finite minds might grasp in some small way the mystery of His person and receive Him as food and drink.

The children of Israel received bread from Heaven and they died in the wilderness because they rebelled against God. We can now receive the true Bread from Heaven in order that we might turn from our rebellion and abide forever in His Kingdom.

Posted by David at 8:00 AM  |  Comments (0)  | 


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