Jesus Christ, the Son of God said, “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.” John 6:51
Jesus‟ statement shocked the Jews. Many of them saw his miracles of feeding the thousands with five loaves and two fish, giving sight to the blind, recovery to the lame, raising the dead, and were inspired to follow him.
But now his words were shocking since they did not seem to be a part of what they hoped for in a Messiah. They heard his words as something beyond this world and they quarrelled among themselves.
They asked, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” It is a good question because the Jews do not believe in cannibal-ism. Nor do we believe in cannibalism, so we have the same question.
Jesus does not ignore the question, but he answers by say-ing that we must eat his flesh and drink his blood if we are to have life within us. Wait, do we not already have life? But Jesus clarifies by saying, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.” John 6:54.
In other words, the very substance of the Eucharist is the entire life of Jesus Christ under the appearance of bread and wine – unless God wants to bring about a miracle that helps us realize that the Eucharist is the true, real and substantial presence of the God Man, Jesus Christ.
In fact, if we wish to have God‟s divine life assuredly within us, God‟s Eternal Life within us, and be raised up to heaven to live with God forever, then we must put our faith in Jesus Christ and receive him in the Eucharist at the proper age, with the proper disposition – free from mortal sin. We must choose to follow Jesus as his disciples. We must choose to follow Jesus as the Son of God, or walk away from him because he appeared to have gone insane at this point.
Some disciples did turn away from him. They are content with the old miracles that made sense to them, but now they have difficulty trusting that he will give them his Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity.
We know from the Old Testament that God worked many miracles through holy prophets. Even Elijah raised a dead per-son to life, earthly life.
But Jesus is saying something completely new. In fact, Jesus will give us his Body and Blood at the Last Supper, the First Mass, by consecrating bread and wine into his Body and Blood, and thus establishing the New Testament with the new ordained priesthood, which fulfills and surpasses the Old Testament and its priesthood, since his faithful followers will rise with Christ to Heaven.
The Eucharist is at the heart of the Gospels, but the follow-ing citation is easy to remember for obvious reasons, since most priests are ordained at age 26, as I was, Mt. 26:26: “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, „Take and eat; this is my body.‟ Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, „Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.’ Mt. 26:26-28.
The Jews today are still waiting for the Messiah to bring God‟s Kingdom to earth. Whereas we Catholics are assuredly being filled with God‟s life, the divine life of grace to help bring God‟s definitive kingdom into the world by living more and more like Jesus Christ, and receiving him worthily in the Eucharist.
Yet, some people are still in need of miracles to help them reach a deeper faith. You can go online and type in “6 Incredible Eucharistic Miracles That Happened Recently,” which is a summary of eucharistic miracles written by Charles A. Coulombe.
A series of Eucharistic miracles occurred in Argentina in 1992, 1994, 1996. In these miracles the consecrated hosts became human flesh. Scientists studied the 1996 occurrence extensively and discovered that the host became human tissue from the heart, the muscle that pumps blood and so gives oxygen and thus life to the rest of the heart and body. No wonder the Eucharist is at the center of the Church – the Mystical Body of Christ.
The scientists also discovered that the heart tissue showed evidence that it belonged to a person who had gone through intense pain, struggled to breathe for extended peri-ods of time and had been stabbed in the left side.
To the amazement of those involved with the study, the white blood cells, which usually disintegrates after 15 minutes outside a living body, were still intact.
Science cannot prove that the tissue was Jesus‟ heart tis-sue. Science cannot explain how a host changed into heart tissue, but science says that it is heart tissue, and that it went through much suffering.
As believers we have the light of divine Catholic faith that tells us that it was Jesus‟ heart tissue; that it was Jesus‟ heart poured out for the life of those who repent and seek God‟s holi-ness. We see with the light of faith that Jesus is here in the Eucharist because he loves us and wants to be with us. With the light of the Catholic faith, we proclaim and celebrate that Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Son of Mary, wants to feed us with his divine life!
My friends, Jesus is God made into man, and he has fulfilled all the Old Testament promises and miracles in himself. He is the New and Eternal Testament in which we fully participate every time we receive Holy Communion which is a sign that we believe all that Jesus teaches us through the Church and are in the state of grace.
We can still grow in faith when we make a spiritual communion or other acts of faith when we cannot receive him sacramentally, such as when we are conscious of an unconfessed mortal sin, or have not fasted one hour before the time of Holy Communion, or not of the appropriate age or faith.
The Crucified and Risen Lord Jesus is the living bread from heaven, so those who eat this divine food in faith, hope and love, will be brought to the fullness of heaven. The Euchrist is the pledge of Eternal Glory. See Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 1406-1419.
After receiving Jesus Sacramentally in the Eucharist – his Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity – under the humble form of bread and wine, or spiritually, take time to thank him. Take time to praise his divine majesty, mercy and power. Take time to pray that he will apply his divine graces to your heart, your mind, your body and your relationships, that they would be made fully alive in the light of the Eternal Father.
Peace in Christ,
Fr. Thomas McCabe