Meditation of the week

Uniting ourselves to Christ

John 6,51-58.

Today’s gospel is an excerpt from the long discourse (6, 25—58) on the Eucharist which Jesus gives after the miracles of the Multiplication of the Loaves and the Walking on the Water ( 6,1-21). It reaches its highpoint in this section which is characterised by a new vocabulary; “eat,” “ feed,” “ drink,”  “flesh,” “blood,”  clearly referring to the Eucharist.   He uses the verb “eat” seven times in this discourse and seven times, also, he uses the image of “living” in Jesus, drawing life from him, or he living in us, through the Eucharist. Seven indicates perfection or completion. The Eucharist is the perfect spiritual food giving eternal life. This excerpt is bracketed by the phrase “Anyone who eats this bread will live forever.” (vs. 51, 58). The message here is that the Eucharist is the body and blood of Christ and whoever receives it lives in Christ and Christ lives in them and forms one body in him/her.   We unite ourselves to Christ and enter communion with him.

The strong emphasis on the Eucharist as the source of a shared life with Jesus and the guarantee of eternal life should make us question how we approach the reception of the Eucharist ourselves. Do we see the sacred Host as a thing to be received or as a living, life- giving reality in which the Lord is really and truly present?  St. John Paul II suggests that as we line up to receive Holy Communion “we need to cultivate a lively awareness of Christ’s real presence  …. and show that awareness through tone of voice, gesture , posture and bearing.” Inaestimabile Donum. II.

It has been suggested that the language we use – “Body and Blood” – may explain partially why people often think of the Eucharist as a thing, instead of the risen glorious Christ present in a real, substantial, sacramental manner. The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us “that Christ is present whole and entire” in each element of the Eucharist – the consecrated bread and wine, and in each of their parts. St. John Paul II reminds us that “The flesh of the Son of Man given as food is his body in its glorious state after the resurrection.” We should approach the Eucharist with a lively faith and with the expectation we feel when we are about to meet a special friend.

Christ does not come to us alone. In today’s gospel Jesus reminds us that as he draws life from the Father so we draw life from him.  The life the Father communicates to the Son comes to us in the Eucharist.

Today’s feast gives us the opportunity to reflect on how we relate to the mystery of the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Do we appreciate the wonder and privilege we have in being able to receive the Lord in Holy Communion?   What do you do while you queue up to receive Holy Communion? Are you praying and talking with the Lord whom you are about to receive? And when you return to your place after receiving Holy Communion how much praying do you do?

Pope St Pius X encouraged us to receive Holy Communion” frequently, fervently and fruitfully.” Our receiving Holy Communion should  be preceded and followed by  deep prayer and gratitude at the privilege.

A  recent  book (2006), “7 Secrets of the Eucharist”  by Vinny Flynn  could help you to appreciate the Eucharist better.

“O Sacrament most holy, O Sacrament divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment thine.”

Father Geoff O’Grady