August 16, 2009

The Bread of Life


The readings from the book of Proverbs (Prv 9:1-6) and the letter to the Ephesians (Eph 5:15-20) give us the same instructions:

"Forsake foolishness"

"advance in the way of understanding"

"do not continue in ignorance"

"try to understand what is the will of the Lord"

The Church does not randomly stick readings together on a given Sunday. They are selected for a purpose, to build toward some point or to improve our understanding. That is what we'll focus on today - that the Church has selected these two readings for a reason. What is the Church telling us? What do these readings tell us? They tell us to pay attention. What is coming up is important. What is coming up is, in fact, the most important idea ever. Period.

In the Gospel today (Jn 6:51-58), what does Jesus tell us? What does He tell us eight times in this passage?
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; (1) and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world. (2) ...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. (3) Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. (4) For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. (5) Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. (6) ...the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. (7) This is the bread that came down from heaven ...whoever eats this bread will live forever. (8)"
Eight times.

"Do not continue in ignorance." Jesus is very clear here; when you kneel at Mass while the priest raises up that piece of bread and says "this is My Body", you are kneeling before Christ. We don't kneel to the priest, we kneel to Christ really present before us. To put it simply and bluntly, to think anything else - to act like anything else is true - is to call Christ a liar.

Ask yourself today if you believe the words of Christ. Do you trust Jesus to tell you the truth? If you do, then ask yourself - especially the next time you're at Mass and looking at that bread in the priest's hands - what that is. Ask yourself what it must be, if Jesus was telling the truth.

And what an amazing gift, that any of us should be allowed to touch and taste God. That is, over and above all else, the reason that we are Catholic.

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