Commonly called the “Bread of Life” discourse, the upcoming Sunday’s gospel passage is part of what is at the heart of the Catholic church; the Catholic Teaching on the Eucharist; the body, blood, soul and divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Difficult for even Jesus’ followers to believe (many turn away in the next few passages and leave because they cannot accept this teaching) we are called to approach communion, not as a symbol of Christ’s body and blood, but his actual flesh. The body he gave up on the cross for the sake of our salvation. In our prayer time this week, we discussed:
- noticing the word “LIFE” mentioned so many times.
- The emphatic language of Jesus giving this message to the Jews; really trying to impart the actual TRUTH of what he is saying
- The relationship between God the Father and Jesus, and how it relates to our reciprocity in our relationship with God, Jesus and the Eucharist
- The need to be near the sacrament, whether attending mass or in the chapel, to receive the immense and abundant graces of this new way God has made for us through his only son; the bread that lives forever…
Spend a minute in silence with this reading; see what Christ is saying to you in it, asking the Holy Spirit to accompany you in prayer.
Jesus said to the crowds:
“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.”
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.”
Things that require the greatest amount of faith from our spirit are always the areas of greatest graces from God. Receiving the Eucharist (literally from Greek, meaning “Thanksgiving”) the actual essence of Jesus Christ in communion as Catholics, is the crux of our faith.
Here are some excerpts from the Encyclical letter Ecclesia De Eucharistia of His Holiness Pope John Paul II (to the Bishops, priests, deacons, men and women in the Consecrated Life and all of the Lay Faithful)
The Church draws her life from the Eucharist. This truth does not simply express a daily experience of faith, but recapitulates the heart of the mystery of the Church. In a variety of ways she joyfully experiences the constant fulfillment of the promise: “Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28:20), but in the Holy Eucharist, through the changing of bread and wine into the body and blood of the Lord, she rejoices in this presence with unique intensity.
He goes on to state, “The Second Vatican Council rightly proclaimed that the Eucharistic sacrifice is “the source and summit of the Christian life”.1 “For the most holy Eucharist contains the Church’s entire spiritual wealth: Christ himself, our passover and living bread. Through his own flesh, now made living and life-giving by the Holy Spirit, he offers life to men”.2 Consequently the gaze of the Church is constantly turned to her Lord, present in the Sacrament of the Altar, in which she discovers the full manifestation of his boundless love.”
We have souls from many different walks of Christianity that gather with us weekly in our prayer group; some are converts to the Catholic Church from different branches of the Christian faith and some come from devout Catholic families. Some were luke-warm Catholics who sometimes went to mass on Sundays but not much more, and some were more agnostic, or didn’t know what they believed. Now we gather as we share our faith in light of the gospels, with a spirituality that we adore, seeking the water from the eternal well of its wisdom. Everyone in our group, without exception, understand the irreplaceable life-giving graces of the Eucharist.
Sharing my faith is the reason I started my blog. Sometimes I take the lighter side of my beliefs to make them more sharable, and sometimes I just blog about how funny life can be because that’s who I really am; always feeling that faith is in every element of my life; as a Catholic, Christian, wife, mother or just as a person. And honestly, I can’t shut up about it. At the risk of sounding like a typical romantic movie script, “it isn’t you, it’s me.” I am not preaching at anyone, as much as I am letting out that which pours forth from the gift of faith in my life. That is what I call my version of “apologetics”.
Sometimes, like today, it take a lot of guts to share the heart of my beliefs, because it is so precious to me because it has sustained me through much sorrow, and I know some people won’t buy it, or are looking for a reason not to bother with God. I know God is real because I have come to KNOW Him. We can have a relationship with Him, a real experience of Him (on which my own existence has come to depend). I don’t judge anyone who struggles to believe, in fact I would wonder if you could actually have real faith if you never questioned? We all question our existence if we really stop and think about life, but when we make an act of faith by choosing to believe and to trust God, we find that the results cannot be denied. In my experience, I have found that people who question faith deeply, end up having the most astounding devotion of us all.
Our church is being torn apart by the media. It has hurt my heart in a deep and real way that people have suffered at the hands of those who were most entrusted with the faith, and I am so sorry for that. God is just. He will reconcile that hurt for all of us. We are one body in Christ, and when any one Christian hurts, we all hurt. Our priests are hurting too; there are many we know who have given their lives to serve God and His people and have done nothing but love us. There is a real spiritual battle taking place in this world, and it takes no prisoners. “For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.” (Ephesians 6:12)
Watching the news was like dumping a spiritual bucket of cold water on my head; I looked deep into my soul and asked, “How often and fervently do I pray for our spiritual leaders? For our world leaders? For the church? For the intentions of the Pope, and for Christians in this world? For God’s little ones, who cannot defend themselves or are doubted when they try to speak up? What part have I played in seeking critical prayers for their protection? Can I blame others if I haven’t done all I can do for my own part?
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” –Helen Keller
“There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.”– Bishop Fulton Sheen