|by Angela Lambert|
August 9th, 2015; 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gospel of John 6:41-51 NAB
The Jews murmured about Jesus because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven,” and they said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother? Then how can he say,‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Stop murmuring among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day. It is written in the prophets: They shall all be taught by God. Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. 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.”
During times of stress, anxiety, or packed schedules, we often do not feel like eating. Like the angel who ordered a weary and despairing Elijah to “Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you” (1Kings 19), good friends will make sure we do anyway urging that we will need it to “keep up our strength.” Obeying the angel’s command and eating the food God provided, Elijah was enabled to “walk forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God.” In this chapter of John, Christ pleads with us to eat the living bread (whether or not we feel like it) that we may eat it and live forever.
Unfortunately we tend to give the Eucharist only a superficial glance. Like the Jews in this passage who murmur “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? …Then how can He say “I have come down from heaven’?”, we think to ourselves, “it really just looks like bread, it’s a wafer, and not even a tasty one at that.” Other times we may say, “I believe it is Christ but I have a busy day. How much of a difference will it really make for me to go to a daily Mass, or how bad would it really be if I did something else today instead of going to Sunday Mass.” In the first example we judge by appearances, in the second we underestimate the transforming power of union with God incarnate.
To say going to Mass won’t add much to your day or week is to say that seeing your dearest friend or spouse wouldn’t improve your day any either. I too sometimes struggle with these thoughts about Mass, especially when it requires getting up early, but from what I have “tasted and seen,” I can confidently say that my day is remarkably different based on whether or not I have received the Eucharist. I receive so much strength and peace in Christ and find it easier to feel close to God or practice the virtues (especially patience!). We all get much more out of time spent with real friends than with acquaintances. Friendships take time to develop though and an investment of oneself. The more you invest in your friendship with Christ, the more you come to Him in the union of the Eucharist, the more you will taste the delight of His love and see transformation in your life. Consider these words of Fr. Lagrange from The Three Ages of the Spiritual Life:
|“The reception of the Eucharist is called Communion, or the intimate union of the heart of God with the heart of man.”|
- Have you ever had a powerful experience of God after receiving the Eucharist?
- How could you be more fervent in your prayer at Mass? What would help you be more present to Christ and less distracted?
- Reflect on the humility and love of Christ that He gives Himself to you in such an intimate way.
- What does this say about His love for you?
- How does sin cheapen this encounter?
- Reflect on the lives of the saints – all of them centered their spiritual life on the Eucharist. What do they have to say about communion and Mass? What is the fruit of their love for the Eucharist?
Make a Resolution (Practical Application):
- Pray to the Holy Spirit to prepare your heart to receive Christ. Pray for greater fervor and passion for Christ in the Eucharist.
- Read about Eucharistic miracles.
- Attend one daily Mass this week.
- Go to confession if you have committed a serious sin.
- Treat the encounter with Christ in the Eucharist with the same reverence and respect as you would your spouse in marital union.
- Try to increase your awareness of any growth in virtue that you experience from frequent reception of the Eucharist. Although the transformation will take time, note what improvements you notice.
~ Written by Angela Lambert © 2015
|* These Sunday meditations are intended to engage the heart and imagination in prayer and include a practical application (resolutions) to your daily life. In our presentation on prayer I offer a more detailed discussion of ways to pray with Scripture that can take 5 minutes, 15 minutes, or half an hour and vary in depth depending on your time-frame and prayer goals.|