Tuesday, May 6, 2014
"God is as really present in the consecrated Host as He is in the glory of Heaven"
'Whoever, therefore, eats of the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself' (1 Cor 11: 27-29). Anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the sacrament of reconciliation before coming to communion" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1385).
Gospel Text: (JN 6:30-35)
The crowd said to Jesus:
“What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you?
What can you do?
Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written:
He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”
So Jesus said to them,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven;
my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.
For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven
and gives life to the world.”
So they said to Jesus,
“Sir, give us this bread always.”
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life;
whoever comes to me will never hunger,
and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”
Around the year 151 A.D., St. Justin wrote to the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius these words: "We call this food Eucharist, and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true and who has been washed in the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration [i.e., has received baptism] and is thereby living as Christ enjoined. For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by Him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nurtured, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus" (First Apology 66).
There is no doubt that Jesus was not speaking symbolically. "I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh for the life of the world" (John 6: 51).
If we approach the Eucharist with a materialistic mentality we fail to understand and so lose the benefits of such a wonderful gift of God’s love. The Eucharist is true food and drink but at the same time it is very different from every other food and drink. The great difference lies in these words of Christ which St Augustine heard in prayer, “You will not change me into yourself as you would food of your flesh; but you will be changed into me.” We transform ordinary food into our own bodies but the food of the Eucharist transforms us into the body of Christ. Ludwig Feuerbach's statement that we become what we eat is never more true that in the Eucharistic experience.
Why then do many of us who receive the Eucharist not experience more of this radical transformation?
Maybe this story will throw more light on the question. A team of Russians and Americans were on a common expedition. Among their cabin foodstuff was Russian black bread. It was tasty but hard on the teeth. It happened during a meal that an American bit into a piece and snapped a tooth. He threw the bread overboard and growled: “Lousy Communist bread.” The Russian countered: “Is not lousy communist bread. Is rotten capitalist tooth.”
If we do not experience the transforming power of the Eucharist at Sunday Mass it is probably not on account of a “lousy” Eucharist but on account of our lack of preparation in order to receive the Eucharist in the proper state, by going to confession with a priest first.
Let us today approach the Eucharist prepared, with a lively faith in the real presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Then and only then will we experience God's saving power and transforming love.
Posted by Joe Reciniello at 6:16 AM