GOSPEL MEDITATION - SOLEMNITY OF THE MOST HOLY BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST
"The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying,
'How can this man give us his flesh to eat?'"
From the beginning, the Eucharist has been a source of controversy. Some people have always found the teaching difficult to accept. But as Catholics, the Blessed Sacrament is at the heart of our worship and our spirituality; we go to Mass to share in the holy sacrifice of Jesus' body and blood, and we receive spiritual nourishment from partaking of this heavenly food. As Jesus himself tells us in today's Gospel, "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him."
From this passage it is clear that Jesus intended the Eucharist to be a tremendous gift for us, for "whoever eats this bread will live forever." This of course is because the bread is Christ's "flesh for the life of the world." In other words, just as he gave his body on the cross to save us from our sins, so too this same flesh is given for us at every Mass to strengthen our weakness and unite us more deeply to our Savior.
Receiving Communion isn't like taking a magic pill, however. We must beware of reducing this sacrament to an empty ritual or a foolproof guarantee of heaven. No, it is quite possible to receive Communion unworthily and reject its spiritual efficacy. Just like the benefits of a healthy meal can be undone by a habit of binging on junk food, so too we can prevent holy Communion from having its full benefits when we crowd our souls with vices and sins. If, on the other hand, we wish to let this sacrament of divine grace flourish, we should receive it with a sincere spirit of gratitude and reverence, praying that we may be made worthy to receive such a gift.
LIVE THE LITURGY
INSPIRATION FOR THE WEEK
Today is all about transformation. The bread and wine is transformed into the body and blood of Christ and we, by partaking in the Eucharist, are also transformed into the body and blood of Christ. St. Augustine issued a wise instruction regarding the Eucharist: "Become what you eat." This is the real challenge of every eucharistic celebration. Will we allow God to transform us into his Son so that the hope, love, healing, comfort, and mercy he embodies can be brought to our world through us? As Jesus feeds us, how can we feed others?
QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK
REFLECT AND RESPOND TO SCRIPTURE
Jesus uses the metaphor "living bread" in reference to himself. What makes this such a powerful and meaningful metaphor in today's reading?
Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14b-16a
Just before entering the Promised Land, Moses reminded the Israelites of the manna sent from heaven to them during their forty years in the desert. Why do you think Moses kept emphasizing this was "a food unknown to your fathers"?
1 Corinthians 10:16-17
Written around 55 AD, Paul offers us in 1 Corinthians the New Testament's earliest witness of the Eucharist. What does Paul's language of "participation" in the body and blood of Christ mean to you?