"If we but paused for a moment to consider attentively what takes place in this Sacrament, I am sure that the thought of Christ's love for us would transform the coldness of our hearts into a fire of love and gratitude." - St. Angela of Foligno
(Gospel text: Jn 6:52-59)
The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his Flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my Flesh is true food, and my Blood is true drink. Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.” These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
A worldwide mystery flu epidemic is killing thousands of people. Doctors finally find a cure: a vaccine can be created from the blood of someone who hasn’t been infected. Everyone has to get tested, and doctors find that your young son has the right type of blood for the vaccine. Everyone is so joyful, but soon you’re told that doctors need all of your son’s blood - your son must die so that everyone else can live. Your son dies, but the vaccine created from his blood saves everyone from the flu. People decide to have a ceremony every week to honor your son. At first, people pay attention, but as the weeks go on, people stop caring as much – they fall asleep during the ceremony, pretend to care, or don’t even show up at all. You stand there, heartbroken, screaming, “My son died for you! Don’t you care?”
God loves us more than we can even imagine. He died so that we may have life, and if we eat of his Body and drink of his Blood, we may have eternal life. Yet, we often take this for granted. How would we feel if we were the parents in the story? How would we feel if we watched others take this enormous sacrifice for granted? Is that how God feels? He did give us His only son so that we could live. Jesus is the only way to salvation, to God and to eternal life. Without Him, we have no hope; we need him and the people who don’t think they need him, need him the most. We seem to emphasize this during Easter time, when we remember Jesus’ life and death, but we need to remember and celebrate the importance of communion every single week.
In his Apostolic Exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis, written in 2007, our now Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, wrote, In the sacrament of the altar, the Lord meets us, men and women created in God's image and likeness (cf. Gen 1:27), and becomes our companion along the way. In this sacrament, the Lord truly becomes food for us, to satisfy our hunger for truth and freedom. Since only the truth can make us free (cf. Jn 8:32), Christ becomes for us the food of truth.
Holy Communion will bring order to our desires. It will lay out the way for us, serve up the truth of things, and gives us resources to bring forth the qualities of life that reflect the heart of God - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, generosity and chastity. It will satisfy our desire to unite our hearts and minds to one another and to God.
This communion will nourish the moment-by-moment course of our lives, if we let it.