1 Kings 19:4-8
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John.
The Jews murmured about Jesus because he said,
“I am the bread that came down from heaven, “
and they said,
“Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph?
Do we not know his father and mother?
Then how can he say,
‘I have come down from heaven’?”
Jesus answered and said to them,
“Stop murmuring among yourselves.
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him,
and I will raise him on the last day.
It is written in the prophets:
They shall all be taught by God.
Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me.
Not that anyone has seen the Father
except the one who is from God;
he has seen the Father.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever believes has eternal life.
I am the bread of life.
Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died;
this is the bread that comes down from heaven
so that one may eat it and not die.
I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”
Good News Reflection: Feasting on the source of eternal life
This Sunday’s Gospel passage is Christ’s explanation of the Eucharist. He says: “Whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life.”
Why does he call the Eucharist “the bread of life”? How does it give us life?
He answers: “Whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” In other words, he gave himself to us — he gave his life for us — on the cross. Our sins put us on the path of death, but he who was sinless and divine substituted himself for us, taking our deaths upon himself so that we could have the eternal life of God.
The resurrection of his body defeated this death. Therefore, his body, crucified and risen, is the source of our life. This is what we celebrate in Mass. We are not re-enacting his death during the sacrifice of the altar, as some mistakenly assume; we are uniting ourselves to his life.
The “sacrifice of the altar” is our participation in the entirety of Christ — his life, his ministry, his crucifixion for our sins, his resurrection, and his ascension to heaven. We unite with him by offering our lives to him so that he ministers to the world through us, sacrificing our will where it interferes with his, which results in being raised up to new life as we follow Christ to heaven.
Every Catholic Mass accomplishes this by providing us with our Savior’s body and blood, here and now, in the form of edible food: the bread of life. As Pope John Paul the Great pointed out in his encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, “The Second Vatican Council rightly proclaimed that the Eucharistic banquet of Mass is ‘the source and summit of the Christian life’.”
This holy communion comes to us from Christ’s Last Supper, through generation after generation of the apostolic priesthood, which began with the very first Apostles. Everyone who attends the liturgy of this communion should truly celebrate the Eucharistic presence of Jesus, even those who still have work to do to remove the obstacles that keep them from receiving the Eucharist bodily.
Christ is as fully present and as truly real here as he was when he sat among the Apostles and said, “This is my Body, this is my Blood.” Thus anyone who adores and honors Jesus in the Eucharist, believing that he is their Savior, is feasting on the source of their eternal life.
Questions for Personal Reflection:
How do you know that the Eucharist is truly the high point and center of your life? What’s missing from your current experience of meeting Jesus in person in the miracle that takes place on the altar?
Questions for Community Faith Sharing:
How has the Eucharist been life-giving for you? Share how Jesus has healed you or revealed himself to you or nurtured you through his presence in the consecrated bread, either in Holy Communion or during Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. How do you know it was really him? How did it change you?
Thank you, Lord Jesus, for giving Yourself in the Eucharist, to give us eternal life. I praise You, my Lord, because You drew me near You and You opened my ears to be able to listen to You and to know You. Amen.
© 2018 by Terry A. Modica