Friar’s Corner: I Am the Living Bread come down from heaven, take and eat.

  

Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14b-16a; Ps 147:12-15, 19-20; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17; John 6:51-58

Dear brothers and sisters, this Sunday’s solemn feast is another major tenant of our faith. Next to the understanding of three distinct persons in the one God, we celebrated last Sunday, and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for our salvation, this ongoing and daily miracle of Christ’s presence with us in the "breaking of the Bread," is critically important and little understood. The shortest and clearest Biblical text comes from St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26:

I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after He had given thanks (to His Father), broke it and said, ‘This is My Body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My Blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes."

Note in this text and in the Mass, there are sentences of instruction before and after the words of consecration. This action of Jesus at the Last Supper is overshadowed by his arrest, trial and death. So this feast was established after the faith became legal in the Roman Empire and the progressive worship of the real presence of Jesus in the consecrated bread and wine during the Middle Ages. It took several centuries to really be understood.

On this feast, we give special thanks and praise to God for this sublime ongoing presence of Jesus with us. I believe this is the greatest daily miracle of his presence with us. It is a daily multiplication of the loaves all over the world. For most people who attend daily Mass, we are having "breakfast" with Jesus. In some places, on this Sunday, there is a solemn public procession, outside of the church building, of this presence of Jesus, in a gold container we call a monstrance.

The (new) "Catechism of the Catholic Church" states:

The mode of Christ's presence under the Eucharistic species is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as "the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all the sacraments tend." In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist "the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained." "This presence is called 'real' – by which is not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if they could not be 'real' too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present." (CCC, 1374)

"It is by the conversion of the bread and wine into Christ’s Body and Blood that Christ becomes present in this sacrament. The Church Fathers strongly affirmed the faith of the church in the efficacy of the Word of Christ and of the action of the Holy Spirit to bring about this conversion. (Part of # 160)

So within the Eucharistic Liturgy (Mass) we are fed in two ways. We feed on the ancient words of God to instruct our lives today. Then we come to the table of Jesus to be fed on our greatest food. We receive divine nourishment empowering us to live our daily lives the way God directs us to in His loving mercy for all people. Have a good Solemnity and week.

 Blessings, in the Names of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

+ Fr. Bob Hilz
(© 2014 Fr. Bob Hilz, TOR)

 

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About Nancy Ward

Nancy HC Ward is a journalist, author, and speaker who blogs about Catholicism, her conversion, and Christian community at JoyAlive.net,
 7 websites and 7 magazines. She loves to share her faith story and help others share theirs through her Sharing Your Faith Stories seminars, also available on DVD. She contributed four chapters to The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion. She facilitates the Dallas/Fort Worth Catholic Writers and a critique group for the Catholic Writers Guild, where she serves as a board member.
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