It is sad to realize that as so many believe Jesus is Present in the Blessed Sacrament, they so seldom visit Him. Men travel across the oceans to see ancient ruins, paintings, landscapes, celebrities and mountains, but they do not think of going into a simple church around the corner to visit the Creator of all beauty.
Man complains of his tensions, hang-ups and frustrations and for these human weaknesses he consumes bottles of pills and other remedies. He spends time and money trying to ascertain who he is and how he came to be. He is tormented by his past and entertains visions of grandeur or despair for the future.
His worries are called "mature concern" and his failures are only the result of other people's lack of cooperation. He covers up his faults and parades his least act of virtue. There are few men who know themselves and even fewer who are able to accept that knowledge with humility.
We have a need to empty ourselves, know ourselves, accept ourselves and rise above ourselves.
We can try to fill these needs on a natural level, but when we empty ourselves we find only a vacuum. When our weaknesses give us self-knowledge we are saddened. When we make an effort to accept ourselves, our love turns to self-hatred and when we try to rise above our human nature to some sublime height of tranquility, we find ourselves alone with nothingness.
We cannot purify ourselves. We cannot escape from the person we are. We cannot excuse our weaknesses. We cannot bear fruit alone and on our own power.
Our need is not so much in changing what we are, as in knowing how best to change who we are. How does darkness turn into light? How does ice turn into fire? How does a limited intelligence comprehend the mystery of life, death and what is to come?
Where do we go to be filled, healed, forgiven, enlightened, and strengthened? Who will listen to our mumbled complaints, inner groanings and silent doubts?
To whom shall we go when no one listens, or cares to hear our tale of woe? Who beckons to our broken heart or gives us the opportunity to cry without shame?
Who waits and waits for one thought from our cluttered minds, one whisper of love from our worldly hearts? If we do not know the answer to these questions, the fire has burned and the Light has shone in vain.
"Whoever remains in Me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty." These words of Jesus at the Last Supper give us a way of holiness that is both simple and easy. The Holy Eucharist is God within us and with us—it is God in us and we in God.
To maintain a close relationship with the God of Love, we must remain in that Holy Presence often. As the rays of the sun change and alter whatever they touch, so the Eternal Son, ever present in the Blessed Sacrament, changes whoever places himself in His Presence.
We must admit our weaknesses so His power can heal our wounds. We must voice our doubts so His light can dispel our darkness. We must kneel in His Presence to tell Him of our repentance.
We must silently place ourselves in His Presence, without a thought of our miseries, quietly absorbing the humility and gentleness of Jesus in this Sacrament of Love.
He is Present in the Eucharist to show us the depths of His love, the lengths He would go to be with us, the longing of His heart to be always near.
It is not important what we say in that Presence. It is only important that we are there—often—to let that Presence penetrate our souls and heal us—to shine on our minds, to strengthen our wills, to bring peace in the midst of turmoil.
His Presence in the Eucharist is silent—our presence before Him can also be silent. His Presence is humble and sacrificial and as our faith makes us kneel before a small white host, locked away in a tabernacle, it grows in that humble acceptance of the mysteries of God beyond our understanding. The time we give Him demands many sacrifices, but we can make them because He made the Supreme Sacrifice.
Only Jesus bears fruit in us and as we take Him into our souls as food, so we must absorb His light by sitting in His Presence—quiet in thought, loving in heart, trusting in mind.
We must be content to be near Him—to let Him work wonders in our souls—to silently absorb the beauty of His self-effacing love—to let the rays of His light penetrate our innermost being and change our stony hearts into hearts of flesh, our rudeness into kindness, our temper into gentleness.
If only we had the humility to realize that He alone is Goodness and He alone makes us good. As soon as we come into His Presence in the Eucharist, our souls respond to the power before them, like a sunflower turning toward the sun.
Before a sigh passes our lips, a thought enters our minds, or a simple word is spoken, our soul has benefited by the Presence of its Creator. Our sanctity is His work, but we cannot say "yes" to His commands unless His grace fills our souls and His light enlightens our minds.
If we are lonely, it is only because we have not visited our Companion in this valley of tears. If we are in doubt, it is only because we have not placed ourselves in His light.
Our weaknesses will always be with us, but we shall be strong for at least a little while, if we have spent some time in His Eucharistic Presence.
His silent Presence, hidden in the tabernacle, says to each one of us, "I love you. Come to me all you who labor and are burdened and I will refresh you. Come to the fountain of life and drink. Tell Me your problems. Listen to My Voice. I tug at your heart, guiding your way and soothing your path."
Love speaks loudly in silence and that silence touches our souls. The Voice of Jesus sounds in our hearts like the voice of mighty waters, cleansing the debris collected during the storms of life. Our parched souls, tired of the journey, find refreshment in the living water flowing from the tabernacle.
There is between the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus and the soul, a silent exchange of love, a sharing of pain, an inaudible dialogue between two who know each other perfectly and love each other deeply.
It is as if the soul sees itself in a perfect Mirror and knows clearly its faults and imperfections. A strange phenomena occurs as the soul gazes at Jesus. Its own reflection becomes brighter. Its faults fade away and one day that "soul is turned—transformed into the Image it reflected." (2 Cor. 3:18)
This being true, why do we permit our souls to die of thirst when the Fountain of Living Water is just around the corner?
Why do we live anxious, frustrated lives when the Source of Serenity waits to pour His peace into our Hearts?
Is our faith in His Presence as real as His Presence is Real or is our faith a mere intellectual acceptance of a revelation someone told us was true? Is our Faith limited to knowledge or is it an experience that is a Faith vision?
De we really believe He is in the Eucharist or do we only hope it is true? And if we do believe, why are our Churches not full, our people on fire, our spirits more zealous and our love like God's love?
Perhaps we need to examine His Gift and see how deep our Faith really is in the depths of our hearts.
Deep in the heart of every human being there is the desire for Heaven and a fear of the death that initiates that desired goal.
It is a strange phenomenon that we cling to what is temporal, desire what is eternal, and wish that somehow we could have both at the same time.
The thought of leaving those we love in the act of death fills our souls with anticipated loneliness. We feel as if we were suddenly alone, unseen by men and unknown by God. We look at the possessions we have accumulated during the years and their value is blown out of all proportion at the realization that they will be left behind in one act of total detachment.
In this struggle we find a rich man misses his possessions more than friends, and a poor man who had no possessions regrets the loss of his opportunities. In an effort to solve this problem man tries to make a name for himself so he is remembered when death overtakes him.
The rich man builds libraries, schools and institutions with his name in a prominent place for posterity to remember him. The poor man hopes, struggles and prays that one of his children will rise above the depths of despair into which he was born and elevate the family name to heights of fame.
All those who live somewhere between the rich and the poor have the same fears and desires in varying degrees. So we find all mankind reaching out for a better life while clinging to a lesser life, wanting to leave this world to enjoy a better one and desiring to stay and bask in the love of dear ones.
This desire to love and to be loved, this need of the presence of loved ones is planted in the heart of every human being because we were created by the God of Love to love. When man digresses from the mission to love, he creates a hell for himself and everyone around him.
We see this concept in the life of the Apostles. Judas refused to love. He became a misfit and finally alienated himself from Love itself. The other Apostles with all their faults and weaknesses loved their Master and desired to grow in that love and so they clung to Him.
Love is a flame that must be constantly fed to keep from diminishing. One of the ingredients of love is to be needed. The sinners flocked to Jesus because they had a need, while the self-complacent Pharisees were only antagonized by His Presence.
Jesus knew that when He was gone we would need a moving force to enable us to become and remain sons of the Father. He sent us His Spirit to possess our souls, enlighten our minds, direct our wills and fill us with the virtues we need to bear the fruit of Jesus.
This He did for our sake but as God-Man—Human and Divine—Risen and Glorified—He wanted to satisfy His love for us and to feed our love for Himself by a total giving.
He sent His Spirit into us at Baptism, but to complete the work He had begun He desired that He be present in our souls in a visible way.
His life on earth made Him experience what His Infinite Mind always knew: Man needs to see to believe. How could man live by Faith and yet see God? How could He leave us in order to send the Spirit and yet stay to be our Companion? How could love be satisfied and thirst satiated without interfering with man's free will and the need to choose for himself.
Would man accept a Faith—vision and would he choose Love above all things including himself? What Divine invention would be able to satisfy all the desires of an Infinite God? Our finite, weak hearts become weary of seeking ways and means of showing love and our minds are stunned into inertia at the thought of loving an Omnipotent God. We are only too ready to cry out, "Impossible. There is no way to love—there is no way for God and man to be one!"
Our God is inexhaustible in the ways He uses to manifest His love for us. Jesus devised a way to feed our souls, to nourish our bodies with heavenly food, to thrill our souls with the taste of Infinite Love—to stay with us after He returned to the Father.
To prepare us to accept this Mystery of Faith, He performed miracles to symbolize the reality, and then at that solemn moment before His death, He revealed just how He would be with us to the end of time. Divine Love triumphed before death paved the way for the Resurrection. He revealed to the crowds that He would be their food and drink and told them emphatically that unless they ate His Body and drank His Blood they would not have life in them.
Before we fully appreciate this Mystery of Faith let us see how Jesus prepared His disciples for this Miracle of Love.
It is significant to note that the first miracle Jesus performed was not a gesture of compassion for the sick or possessed. He lived a life of work and prayer for thirty years and as soon as He began to manifest His Divine Nature, worked a miracle symbolic of something greater to come.
He and His disciples had been invited to a wedding feast and the wine ran out. At the request of His Mother He performed a miracle that astounded His Apostles. He asked the servants to fill water jugs with water and then merely said, "Draw out now and bring to the chief steward." (Jn. 2:8) He did not say a prayer over the water or touch it, He merely willed that it be changed from water to wine. Only God can create or change by an act of His Will alone. He had water put into jugs and wanted wine to pour out, and it was done. Twenty to thirty gallons of water had changed into wine because He willed it so.
Poets have said that the water blushed because it was in the presence of it's Maker, but we must see more than power in this miracle. God's Prophets performed similar miracles. Elias prayed and the oil did not diminish until the famine was over. Here Jesus does not pray as one whose gift depends upon the Will of God. No—He is Godand His Will alone creates or changes His creation.
It was so when more than four thousand followed Him and forgot to eat for three days. The Apostles had seven loaves and a few fish, and Saint Matthew tells us that "Jesus took the loaves and fish, gave thanks and broke them and handed them to the disciples who gave them to the crowds." (Matt. 15:35,36)
As at the wedding feast of Cana, there was in the feeding of the multitude an important message. These kinds of miracles were performed by Jesus to impress upon the minds of the crowd that His power was the Power of God. These particular gestures of compassion were wrought as a symbol of something greater to come. Their hearts were prepared to accept a greater mystery that He would reveal before His death—the Mystery of the Eucharist. This Mystery was so great a gift from God that the human mind would never be able to accept such an influx of love without some preparation.
As the steward at Cana and the crowds in the desert did not understand how He did it, they all realized that what He did was done out of love. He nourished their bodies, and though all benefited by the fruit of His Power, none was deprived of His personal attention and love. These two miracles foreshadowed the Eucharist.
He began His life by taking on the flesh of man and ended it by giving that flesh back to man in the form of food. He began His public life by changing water into wine and He ended it by changing bread and wine into His Body and Blood.
He accomplished both miracles with great ease. On both occasions He was surrounded only by His chosen few. Both miracles were accomplished in a quiet conversational tone of voice—as if it were nothing.
In the Wedding of Cana the only people who knew of the miracle besides the Apostles were the servants who filled the water jars with water and then watched as wine was drawn out. At the Last Supper only a few Apostles watched as Jesus said simple but powerful words over bread and wine. "This is My Body which will be given for you: do this as a memorial of Me." He did the same with the cup after supper and said, "This cup is the new covenant in My Blood which will be poured out for you." (Luke 22:19,20)
As His birth was observed by only a small group in the silence of the night, so this Divine Presence among us was given to mankind in a quiet, unassuming way. How like God to do great things with humility.
As human beings, we do great things but with the attention of the crowds upon us and all the noise necessary to keep that attention. During the temptation in the desert Jesus was asked by the devil to do three things and all three were intended to make Jesus a performer before the crowds.
He was asked to change stones into bread. How sad that the devil has more faith in the Power of Jesus than men have. Men of today do not believe that Jesus could change bread into His Body.
The next suggestion was to throw Himself down from the parapet of the Temple. This certainly would have attracted the crowds.
The third request was absurd, but then pride is an absurdity. Jesus was asked to adore the Enemy of God for the sake of money and worldly glory. The Will of Jesus, eternally one with the Father, recoiled at the thought and told the devil to depart.
The one significant thing about the three temptations in the desert is that the real test was to see if Jesus could, by a mere act of His Will, change stones into bread, float down from the Temple parapet, and worship the Enemy. The devil knew that only God can Will something to be or to change, and it is so. Only God could change the atomic structure of one thing and make it into another by merely willing it. He waited to see the Divine Will in action.
This Act of Will was prominent in all of the healings and miracles Jesus wrought among the people. The faith required of the people made it necessary that they first believed He could heal them rather than that He would heal them.
Only once was this brought into question by one who needed healing. A boy had been brought to the Apostles by his father to be healed of demoniac epilepsy. The Apostles' power seemed suddenly limited and the boy was not healed. The boy's father then brought his son to Jesus and said, "if You can do anything, have pity on us and help us." (Mark 9:23)
The leper who said, "Sir, if You want to, You can cure me" (Matt. 8:2) never questioned the power of Jesus, never questioned His authority. He humbly waited for Jesus to express what that Divine Will designed for him.
The man with the epileptic boy, however, questioned His Authority and Power. He brought this boy to the Apostles in the same way one goes from Doctor to Doctor. The 'Apostles had failed and now he decides to try Jesus.
Jesus' feelings towards this man are very evident in the Gospel of St. Matthew. Jesus replies to the man's doubting question by saying, "Faithless and perverse generation. How much longer must I put up with you?" (Matt. 17:14-18)
When the Apostles saw this boy writhing and foaming at the mouth, their fear caused them to question the power Jesus had given them to heal. When they privately asked Jesus why they could not cast the demon out, Jesus told them in no uncertain terms, "Because you have little Faith." (Matt. 17:20)
A necessary ingredient of Faith then is a belief not only in what God reveals, but in His Power to accomplish anything He wills to do. Our part is to humbly wait for Him to manifest His Will. We are never sure that what we ask for is for our good, and so we wait for a confirmation if the answer is "Yes" and enlightenment if the answer is "No."
The one thing we cannot do as Christians is to question His Power and the right to manifest that Power by a mere act of His Wail. God has only to Will and out of nothingness comes existence, and from existence comes change. Whether that change is abrupt and sudden or gradual and imperceptible, the same Power is at work.
It is significant of the humility of Jesus not to work miracles for the sake of show. St. Matthew tells us he did not work any miracles in Nazareth because of their lack of faith. (Matt. 13:58) It says "did not" not "could not." Jesus demanded a belief in His power that was far beyond human abilities. If that belief were absent, then He would refuse to perform any miracles. They had to believe in His Divinity and Power, and submit to His Will. His humility would not be violated even for the sake of the hard-hearted.
Jesus wants our belief in His Power to do the miraculous and the impossible, to be without question, and our humility to be trusting enough to realize He does only what is for our good.
When a centurion told Jesus it was not necessary for Him to travel to his home to heal his servant, Jesus was amazed at his faith. It told the crowds listening to his appeal that Jesus, being God, had only to Will—to say the word—and his servant would be healed. (Matt. 8:5-13)
Jesus as Lord has only to Will and whatever He wishes becomes a reality. Our limited intelligence ca ,not comprehend such a Power, and our lukewarmness cannot imagine such Love.
Why do we find the Miracle of the Eucharist difficult to accept? Is it a question of His Power or His Love? We cannot question His Power for the One who created mountains, hills, planets and stars out of nothing can surely change something that already exists into something else.
Neither can we question His Love. Who can fathom a Love as great as the Love of Jesus? He proved it Himself by His birth, life, death and resurrection. Since the source of the doubts cannot be in God, it must be in ourselves.
Perhaps we are afraid of the obligations placed upon us when we believe in His Real Presence in the Eucharist. Perhaps our love is too lukewarm to accept the total abnegation of Jesus as He places Himself into a small host. Perhaps our pride refuses such an act of Faith—a surrender of our senses in favor of an invisible reality. How sad it is that the humility of Jesus escapes us because we desire to drag His Power down to our limitations. We must believe He is our Living Bread, our only Hope. We must trust His message and live by His Word.
"I am the Living Bread which has come down from Heaven. Anyone who eats this Bread will live forever; and the Bread that I shall give is My Flesh for the life of the world." (Jn. 6:51)
In his Prologue John calls Jesus the Word. He tells us that the Word was with God and the Word was God. Jesus came down from the Father as One who gives life. All men lived in darkness and though many saw the Light it was always at a distance—it was a Promise—a taste of something greater to come.
As men lived in the shadow of this Light they became holy, but only when Jesus became man did the Light come into their midst and live among them. Only after His Resurrection did His Spirit live within them. What they were by Promise—sons of God—they became in reality.
During their sojourn in the desert God fed the Israelites with manna. They were His chosen people, and as they wandered from place to place God kept them alive by giving them a fresh daily supply of manna.
This food kept their bodies healthy and strong, but what it symbolized increased their faith. It was a food sent by God to manifest His Providence and Love. "It was not Moses who gave you bread from heaven" Jesus told the crowds. "it is My Father who gives you bread from heaven." (Jn. 6:32)
It is strange that in describing a past event Jesus used the present tense. The Father is still feeding His people. In the past He sent Manna, in the present He sends Jesus.
The people asked for this bread of life, expecting some type of manna that would satisfy them forever. "Give us this bread always" they pleaded.
The answer they received was not what they expected. "I am the Bread of Life" He told them.
Doubts began to cloud their minds as they looked at Him and wondered what He meant. When He promised that all who went to Him would never be hungry or thirsty again, the crowd began to separate into various categories of doubt.
He tried to explain that belief in Him was a special gift from the Father and that belief and adherence to Him as Lord meant Eternal Life. They were to hear and follow the Word of God come down from Heaven.
In a very short discourse—Jn. 6:32-58—Jesus told the crowds four times that He would raise them up on the last day: three times. that He was living Bread; and twice, that they would live forever. There was a condition to all these promises. This condition has two facets. "I tell you, solemnly. everybody who believes has eternal life." (Jn. 6:47) Belief in the message Jesus gave them from the Father was food for the soul. He was man's true bread but a Bread that only Faith could receive. That Faith in Him made them heirs to the Kingdom.
He explained this kind of food when He said, "It is written in the Prophets 'They will all be taught by God' and to hear the teaching of the Father and learn from it is to come to Me." On. 6:45)
They were to hear and learn, absorb and digest the words of Jesus as they flowed from the Father. Lest they think it sufficient for them merely to hear the words, He said, "I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate manna in the dessert and they are dead; but this is the bread that comes down from Heaven so that a man may eat it and not die." (Jn. 6:49,50)
The crowd was puzzled but before another doubt could take root in their minds Jesus explained exactly what He meant—"l am the living bread which has come down from Heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My Flesh for the life of the world." (Jn. 6:51)
Jesus was a victim whose Body and Blood would be offered in sacrifice for the salvation of all mankind.
St. John in his Prologue tells us that the "Word was made Flesh." God became man to teach man how to be like God. Such an impossible feat needed more than a revelation to be accepted, an example to be followed. Man would have to share the Divine Nature.
For man to be a son of God, the very Spirit of God had to dwell in Him, and so Jesus promised us another Advocate. To sustain that Spirit within us it was necessary to constantly feed our souls with the Grace that the Advocate would give—us.
Spiritual food was as necessary as physical food. The word of God had to be taken in by the mind so man would know what to do to please God. However, once that word entered the soul it needed power to germinate. Something else was needed to permit it to bear a hundredfold fruit. So bountiful was this fruit to become that it took over the soul completely. and that soul, created with limitations, would contain within itself its very Creator. The Creator would shine forth in the soul and transform it. Love itself would take possession of the soul and it would begin to love with God's own Love.
How was this marvel to be accomplished? Sad to say, the crowds of His time grasped the Mystery more quickly than the people of today. "The Jews started arguing with one another, 'How can this man give us His Flesh to eat?" Jesus replied: "I tell you solemnly, if you do not eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood you will not have life in you." (Jn. 6:52,53)
Why did the Jews not accept this statement of Jesus as a symbol? On a day in the not too distant future Jesus was to call Himself a Vine and His followers branches, growing from that Vine. They understood this as a symbol and so it was.
The Author of Truth was bound to make this Mystery clear in the minds of His listeners. Unless Truth was set forth clearly there would be no way for that Truth to be accepted or rejected. The Free Will given to man by his Creator would not be held responsible for a Light that was only faintly visible. So bright was the Light of this revelation that it carried with it the Promise of Eternal Life.
"Anyone who does eat My Flesh and drink My Blood has eternal life and I shall raise him up on the last day." Jesus used the present tense again and said. "has eternal life" and not the future tense "will have eternal life." (Jn. 6:40 and 51)
Eternal Life begins with this Eucharistic communion of love—this intimate union of Creator and creature—this mingling of All with nothingness. The Eucharist enables Eternal Light and the created soul to join together and become one Light. Living Bread and a living soul unite and become one Love. one sacrifice for the salvation of many.
To be positive they understood what He was saying, Jesus emphasized the Mystery by saying. "For My Flesh is real food and My Blood is real drink." It appears in this chapter of St. John that Jesus is trying to explain the lengths Infinite Love will go to be loved in return.
He repeats Himself again and again as if to drive home a truth of gigantic proportions. "He who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood lives in Me and I live in him." He wanted them to understand that two loves, one limitless and one limited, would be as one. The Flesh of the Word made Man, joining with the soul in a human being, would be so united that whoever saw the man would see the God in him.
"As I." He told them. "who am sent by the living Father, Myself draw life from the Father. so whoever eats Me will draw life from me." (Jn. 6:57) It staggers the mind to think that Jesus loves us so much. He desires to possess us and we Him in the same way He and the Father are one. Who could ever have dreamed of such a union of love? Who could ever have imagined a Creator loving a creature so tenderly?
Realizing what was in the hearts of His listeners, Jesus tried to explain how this would be done. As if to change the subject, He said, "This is the Bread come down from Heaven; not like the bread our ancestors ate; they are dead, but anyone who eats this Bread will live forever." Only at the Last Supper would those who believed His Words then, understand how they could eat His Flesh and drink His Blood. His miraculous power would change bread into His Body.
Their lack of faith and hardness of heart worked a curious phenomenon. They missed the revelation of how He would accomplish this Mystery but they understood it was His real Flesh and Blood that they were to eat.
They took His message literally but completely missed His explanation and comparison to the Manna in the desert. We have changed little since that time. We refuse to believe in a visible reality when our own minds cannot understand that reality.
We are appalled at the ignorance of men of medical science, who in the past centuries refused to believed the existence of bacteria or the necessity of cleanliness. As this is true in the field of science, it is also true in the realm of the invisible world. Lack of humility and confidence in the authority of Jesus has blinded many to the reality of spiritual truths—truths that can give us joy, peace, assurance and eternal life.
Later, when Jesus had referred to Himself as the Vine and we as the branches, He merely stated the fact of the total dependence a creature has upon its Creator. He did not press the subject, neither did He keep repeating the simile to make His point.
Everyone present realized the symbolism of the Vine and branches and no objections were made. This was not so in the synagogue on that memorable Sabbath when the great Mystery of the Eucharist was revealed.
"After hearing it," John records, "many of His followers said, 'This is intolerable language. How could anyone accept it?' " Jesus was aware that His followers were complaining about it and said. "Does this upset you? What if you should see the Son of Man ascend to where He was before?" (Jn. 6:59-62)
The important point in this incident is that Jesus knew His statement of eating His Flesh and drinking His Blood had disturbed many. The reason was obvious—they took Him literally.
At this point. Infinite Truth and Justice was bound to clarify His statement if there were any chance of misunderstanding. He told them at other times He was the Way and the Truth. His preaching would not leave a shadow of doubt in the minds of His hearers as to what He meant.
When they had not understood His message before, He took time to explain at length the meaning of His parables. Not so now. They had understood correctly. There was no need for explanations. only acceptance.
If they did not believe His gift of the Eucharist. how would they believe in His Resurrection? We find that those who did not believe the former also failed to accept the latter. The Eucharist was "intolerable" language. and the Resurrection became to them a hoax perpetrated by well-meaning disciples.
The only gleam of light Jesus shed on the subject was to tell them that "it is the spirit that gives life, the flesh has nothing to offer. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life." (Jn. 6:63)
The Father communicates life to the Son and Jesus passes on that life to the faithful by making Himself their food. Only the Holy Spirit can give souls the light to understand this Mystery of the Eucharist. The "flesh"—the senses—human intelligence—could never invent, believe or accept such a Mystery on its own.
Whatever is Divine can come to us only from the Spirit. To make this clear Jesus told them "There are some of you who do not believe. This is why I told you that no one could come to Me unless the Father allows him." (Jn. 64-66)
Jesus was not excusing their hardened hearts. He was telling them that because they refused to believe He was God's Son and had the power to change and transform them, the Father would not give them the gift of Faith so necessary to believe the Mystery of the Eucharist.
Faith in Jesus was the necessary quality of soul to open the heart and mind to see Jesus as Living Bread—Food for His followers to grow on and change their lives.
Their pride rebelled—first, at the thought of eating Hi; Body and Blood; and then, at their dependence upon the gifts of the Father to understand this Mystery. "After this,' Scripture says, "many of His disciples left Him and stopped going with Him." (Jn. 6:65)
At this point Jesus looked at His disciples and said, "There are some of you who do not believe." "For Jesus knell from the outset those who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him." We seem to have three categories of doubters. First, there were those who were in the Synagogue—Sabbath worshipers. Secondly, there were disciples. Thirdly, there was one Apostle. From His most intimate friends to the average men there were those who did no believe.
Those who heard Him for the first time were the worshippers who said "this saying was intolerable." Scripture describes the reaction of His followers by stating simply "After this, many of His disciples left Him and stopped going with Him." (Jn. 6:66)
Here it was that those whose enthusiasm had caused them to leave all things in the beginning, walked out on Him Their realization that He meant exactly what He said forced them to decide whether to follow Him or not. They chose not to continue.
We find that those who had never heard Him had the opportunity to benefit by His words. They saw with their own eyes the Messiah. Their first encounter was one of shock and dismay. But Infinite Truth did not say a word to change their minds or soften their hearts.
His followers, too, those who went from town to town and city to city, watching. admiring and cheering everything He did—those, too, had the opportunity to continue following continue defending, but they did not. and He would not say a word to bring them back to His side.
Jesus watched the indignation of the people and the disbelief of His followers. Many walked out of the Synagogue, and in that Temple of God, God silently watched as men turned away.
Knowing the hearts of all present. Jesus turned to His Apostles and said. "What about you? Do you want to go away, too?" There must have been a time of silence before Peter said, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the message of Eternal Life, and we believe; we know You are the Holy One of God." (Jn. 6:68,69)
Jesus had just told the assembly that only the Father could make them understand this Mystery. Once before when Jesus asked His Apostles who He was, Peter had said, "You. are the Christ—the Son of the Living God." (Matt. 16:16) Jesus wanted all present to know how Peter knew this truth and He told him, "Simon, son of Jonah, you are a happy man! Because it was not flesh and blood that revealed this to you but My Father in Heaven." (Matt. 16:17)
By "flesh" Jesus meant our own human reason, that Intellect that is so limited in what it sees, feels, hears and touches. Only a special light given by the Father could make one see God in a man, and see God in bread.
We can be sure that Peter did not understand exactly how it would be accomplished but He did believe Jesus to be Lord and as Lord, He could and would accomplish whatever He revealed.
This was a consolation for Jesus but perhaps it was also a source of the deepest pain. Instead of praising Peter for his witness of faith as He previously did, He replied with a heart-rending statement, "Have I not chosen you, you Twelve? Yet, one of you is a devil." It is strange that no-one asked who was possessed. Only later did they know who He meant, for John remarks, "He meant Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, since this was the man, one of the Twelve, who was going to betray Him." (Jn. 6:71)
Judas was one who was more than a worshipper, more than a follower. Here was a man specially and carefully chosen to be a leader, a teacher, a witness, a friend and a priest of the New Covenant.
For a long time Jesus was a disappointment to Judas. The cause of the Messiah seemed futile. He was not the kind of Saviour Judas had in mind. His respect for Jesus waned and he began to steal from the common fund.
With the revelation of the Holy Eucharist his disappointment turned to disgust but, unlike the Worshippers and the Followers, he decided it wiser to stay with Jesus. Was it at this time that the thought of betrayal crossed his mind? It was essential for crowds of people to acclaim Jesus for Judas to keep up his enthusiasm. When he saw them turn away, his heart sank into a state of hopelessness.
When Jesus had asked His Apostles who He was, Judas did not answer. He did not know—he did not believe. Peter, however, was open to the light of the Father. Once he believed Jesus was Lord, he could believe that Lord had power to change bread into His Body—Living Bread sent to us by the Living Father as His Living Son.
Like Peter, then, we as Christians must affirm our Faith in His Love as He gives us Himself as food and in His Power as He changes bread and wine into His Body and Blood.
If the Voice of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist were to ask us one day, "Who do you say that I am?" may we be open enough to the Light of His Spirit to answer, "You are the Son of God."
"I have longed to eat this passover with you before I suffer; because I tell you, I shall not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God." (Luke 22:15,16)
Jesus was not speaking of sharing a last meal with His friends. He was not very concerned about food in itself and advised His followers to use it to sustain life and not for their pleasure.
If He "longed" for this night and He did so before His death, then we realize He had some important message to give us—a message quite separate from His "suffering."
What kind of food was He to share at this meal and then not eat again until "it" was fulfilled in the Kingdom?
What kind of food would have a culmination point—a point of fulfillment? Ordinary food is digested and reaches no point of future fulfillment. What was the "it" He spoke of? These questions must be answered if we are to understand the Mystery that He offers our Faith to feed upon.
First, Jesus takes the Passover cup, gives thanks and says simply, "Take this and share it among you, because from now on, I tell you, I shall not drink wine until the kingdom of God comes." (Luke 22:17,18)
This particular cup of wine was one of the four cups passed during the Passover Supper. Jesus had told His Apostles that He had come to fulfill the Law and now, He executes the Law for the last time and draws a parallel between the Passover and the Eucharist He is about to institute.
After this part of the ceremony was over, Jesus "took some bread and when He had given thanks, broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is My Body which will be given for you; DO THIS AS A MEMORIAL OF ME." (Luke 22:19)
Jesus, who had healed bodies and multiplied bread, took simple bread and thanked for it. Unlike the thanksgiving He said over the Passover wine, this time He asked—for more than a sharing. This was different. The Will that created all things, willed that a change occur when He said, "This is My Body." It was the same Will that said to nothingness "Let there be light." Just as light was made by those simple words, so bread became something greater than itself, yet retained the appearance of bread.
When the Spirit would come and take up His abode in man, man would look the same but his invisible soul would be radically different. He would be in reality someone he did not appear to be—a son of God.
And so it was with the Bread. It seemed like bread, just as one man seemed like any other man, but that bread had changed—it was His Body just as man was a son of God.
They both retain their own appearance but what a change occurs! Both would take Faith to see—Faith to see God in bread and God in man.
For God to remain in man, man had to share the Nature of God. His Love would do the impossible—He would change insignificant and common bread into His Body and Blood so no-one would ever be deprived of this Food.
To be assured that all mankind would possess this Food, Jesus told His Apostles "Do this as a memorial of Me." (Luke 22:19) As He had given them power to heal bodies, He gave them power to change bread into His Body.
As once He shared with them His creative powers as they changed leprous tissue into new flesh, now, He shares something greater—He gives them power to transform and change—to say over bread as He did, "This is My Body."
This Institution of the Holy Eucharist was done after the Passover Supper. The old was gone and the new Covenant began. Luke says, "He did the same with the cup after supper, and said, "This cup is the New Covenant in My Blood which will be poured out for you." (Luke 22:20)
"Drink all of you from this for this is My Blood, the Blood of the Covenant, which is to be poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." (Matt. 26:28)
On Mount Sinai the blood of lambs sealed the covenant between God and His people. (Ex. 24:4-8) Now, it is something greater offered to God as a covenant—a pledge of the forgiveness of sins: the very Blood of God in one supreme sacrifice pours Itself out for the Redemption of many.
Love was not satisfied with pouring out His Blood on the Cross. He desired we drink that Blood in a most palatable way. He changes wine into His Blood and that Blood gives us all the strength to seek His forgiveness, the humility to repent and the love to change our lives to conform with the reality within us.
The Apostles were men who were given power from Jesus when He asked them to do as He had just done, to give to mankind that Sacred Body and Blood. They would ever present to the Father and to mankind the Sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross.
They would offer that one Sacrifice to God for the forgiveness of sins. Just as a mother feeds her child with the milk from her own body, so Jesus would feed those He redeemed with His own Blood.
He brought them forth from the darkness of sin into the light of the Father's forgiveness by the pain of the Cross. To be sure that His children, those whom the Father entrusted to His care, would grow into this new life of Spirit and Truth, He gave power to men to consecrate bread and wine and change them into His Body and Blood. He would continue to feed His own.
Men throughout the centuries would be privileged to kneel at His Feet on Calvary, ever present to them at the Mass, and thank Him personally for His Sacrifice, thank the Father for His gift, and thank the Spirit by whose power mere men brought down the Son of God for all to love and adore.
To the Father all things are present and that Supreme Sacrifice of Love, ever presented to Him for the salvation of souls, brings down upon the world His Mercy and Forgiveness. It ever keeps before the eyes of our minds the cost of our Redemption and the power of His Spirit. It spurs us on to greater sacrifices that in some small way we may unite our pain with His pain, our suffering with His suffering and our sacrifices with His sacrifice.
The Eucharist is truly a Mystery of Faith, an outpouring of His generosity and a call to be holy as He is holy, to love with His own Love for His Blood flows in our veins—His Body is bone of our bone.
He called Himself "Living Bread" because He did not will that His Supreme Sacrifice should remain in the minds of men merely as an historical event—a dead thing. No, that Sacrifice would go on as an ever "Living" Memorial of an ever present event in the mind of God.
"These remained faithful to the teaching of the Apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers . . . They went as a body to the Temple every day but met in their houses for the breaking of bread." (Acts 2:42-46)
Every day the Apostles instructed the first Christians in Holy Scripture. All the prophecies concerning Jesus were studied in the light of His life among them. Love reigned in their midst and they lived a communal life as one body of people, dedicated to the Lord. They were "brothers" of the Lord and of each other.
They were Jews who followed Jewish customs and so, after they worshipped in the Temple they went to their homes for the breaking of bread.
The "breaking of bread" was a Jewish custom. The one who presided over the meal gave thanks, broke bread and distributed it to his family. Jesus had used this custom as part of the Institution of the Holy Eucharist.
After His Resurrection, the breaking of Bread, as the words "This is My Body" were pronounced, became a central part of their spiritual lives. The Apostles, to whom this power was given by Jesus, presided over this function as well as over the prayers said by the brethren.
Before Pentecost and many times thereafter they joined together in prayer. In the First Chapter of Acts we read that the Apostles "joined together in continuous prayer."
We get a glimpse of the functions of these men in the early Church when the social aspects of its structure began to distract them from their main duty. The Twelve called a meeting of all the faithful and told them, "It would not be right for us to neglect the Word of God so as to give out food." (Acts 6:2,4)
What was more important than feeding the hungry? What did these Apostles have to do that did not leave them time for this work of charity? We find that they did not neglect this duty of feeding the poor but, putting first things first, realized that as Apostles of the Word they had to take care of the spiritual food of their converts as well as their physical needs.
"You, brothers," they told the congregation, "must select from among yourselves seven men of good reputation, filled with the Spirit and Wisdom . . ." (Acts 6:3)
The Apostles insisted that those chosen would be men of deep spiritual insight and not merely distributors of food packages.
The important passage in this Scripture is the reason the Apostles gave for this change. "We will hand over this duty' to them, and continue to devote ourselves to prayer and to the service of the Word." (Acts 6:4)
The Apostles obviously felt their mission from God was separate from anyone else's. They were to lead the prayer at the breaking of bread and they were responsible for the doctrinal elaboration of the Good News. Questions as to interpretation were constantly—set before them. St. Peter made it clear one day when he said, "We must be most careful to remember that the interpretation of Scriptural Prophesy is never a matter for the individual." (2 Pet. 1:20)
There were times when many things regarding the sayings and counsels of Jesus were misrepresented or ill-used.
In every case recourse was made to the Apostles as men set apart in the New Covenant, as the tribe of Levi was set apart in the Old Covenant.
When Philip, the deacon, went to Samaria, he preached the Good News and "baptised both men and women." (Acts 8:12,13) Rut we find that his ministry was limited to preaching, healing, and baptizing. Scripture recounts that, "When the Apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the Word of God, they sent Peter and John to them and they went down there, and prayed for the Samaritans to receive the Holy Spirit, for as yet He had not come down on any of them: they had been baptized only in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit." (Acts 8:14-17)
Philip, the Deacon, did not have the power to bring down the Holy Spirit on the new converts. It was the function of the Apostles only, to lay hands on these people for them to receive this gift of the Father.
We see the Apostles preaching and explaining the Good News, breaking bread at the Lord's Supper, and conferring the Spirit by laying on of hands. They were priests of the Lord, forgiving sins in His Name, healing bodies in His Name, delivering demons in His Name, and changing bread and wine into His Body and Blood in His Name.
Faith in the Holy Eucharist was strong among the Apostles' converts. St. Paul had a special love for the Eucharist and mentioned It to the Corinthians in strong language.
Some of these Christians received the Eucharist at the breaking of bread and then proceeded to go elsewhere to eat food that had been sacrificed to idols.
Paul reminded them of their obligations when he said, "The blessing—cup that we bless is a communion with the Blood of Christ and the bread that we break is a communion with the Body of Christ." (1 Cor. 10:16,17) As each of them partook of the one loaf of bread changed into the Body of Christ, they formed "a single body." They were united with Jesus and each other in a way they never dreamed of.
He tried to explain that though the food they ate which had been sacrificed to idols had no value, still it constituted a communion with demons. "You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons" he reminded them.
The Corinthians had worshipped idols for so long that they began to combine Christianity and idolatry.
It was not long before their reverence for the Eucharist began to fall into lukewarmness. Paul was angered by their indifference and explained both the Eucharist and their punishment for receiving It unworthily.
His reprimand was in the form of an instruction. "I hear," he told them, "that when you come together as a community there are separate factions among you." (1 Cor. 11:17-34)
When they came together as a community it was for the express purpose of celebrating the "Lord's Supper." However, instead of waiting for all to arrive for this meeting, one would begin to eat his own supper while others indulged in too much drinking. "Surely you have homes for eating and drinking" Paul chided them.
The conduct of these few embarrassed the entire Community and Paul sarcastically remarks, "What am I to say to you? Congratulate you? I cannot congratulate you on this."
Paul seemed desperate to explain his viewpoint on the Eucharist and in an effort to do so, he gives us a small glimpse into his interior life.
Jesus had appeared to Paul on numerous occasions. In fact, he tells everyone that all he learned came to him directly from Jesus, even though his humility made him check all his revelations with the Apostles in Jerusalem. (Gal. 1:11-13)
With this authority behind him he says, "This is what I received from the Lord and in turn passed on to you." The explanation of the Eucharist Paul was about to give had been given to him directly by Jesus. He made this point, to be sure that those who interpreted the words of Jesus at the Last Supper as symbolic, would know for certain that the words Paul was about to say were the words of Jesus and not his own opinion.
"On the same night that He was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread, and thanked God for it, and broke it, and He said, 'This is My Body, which is for you; do this as a memorial of Me.'"
"In the same way He took the cup after supper and said, 'This cup is the New Covenant in My Blood. Whenever you drink It, do this as a memorial of Me.' " The similarity between Luke's account and Paul's revelation is clear. Luke was Paul's traveling companion and knew him better than most. His account of the Last Supper is the most detailed and we can be sure he and Paul discussed this Mystery often.
The Eucharist is God's new covenant with His people, and Paul tried to impress Its importance upon the minds of his converts. "Until the Lord comes, therefore," he told them, "every time you eat this Bread and drink this Cup you are proclaiming His death." (1 Cor. 11:26,27)
The consecration of bread and wine into His Body and Blood proclaims to all mankind the death of Jesus. It is not another sacrifice, but the one and only Sacrifice, proclaimed anew to all the world.
Paul was not present at the Last Supper or on Calvary but as a follower of Jesus he was not deprived of this privilege. This was to Paul so real an experience that he explained, "Anyone who eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will be behaving unworthily towards the Body and Blood of the Lord."
How was Paul to impress this truth upon his converts? He told them to "recollect" themselves before they partook of this Body and Blood. There was to be some time of prayer, reverence and gratitude for such a gift from God. "Because" he solemnly remarked, "a person who eats and drinks without recognizing the Body, is eating and drinking his own condemnation. In fact, that is why many of you are weak, ill, and some of you have died." (1 Cor. 11:28-31)
Paul's faith in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and the power of the Mass, whose Consecration produced this marvel, was so strong that he believed that all those who committed a sacrilege were punished by God.
Those who deliberately partook of this Sacrament unworthily were guilty of sacrilegious communion and in the mind of Paul this spiritual evil produced physical illness and even death.
This is strong language but Paul was speaking to a hardheaded people who seemingly indulged themselves in food and drink during a Sacred function. The Breaking of Bread was no symbol to Paul but a real sacrifice and a real participation in the Body and Blood of the Lord.
As an Apostle to the Gentiles his instructions had to be clear and sound. He would not pronounce a condemnation of body and soul upon a symbol, like the Vine and Branches mentioned before.
Jesus had told him, as He did the Apostles in the Synagogue, "My Flesh is real food and My Blood is real drink." (Jn. 6:55) It was not something to be treated lightly.
No-one was to be present on Calvary eating and drinking riotously without bringing down upon himself the anger of God. "If only we recollect ourselves" he suggested, "we should not be punished like that. But when the Lord does punish us like that, it, is to correct us and stop us from being condemned with the world." (1 Cor. 11:32)
"So, to sum up, my brothers, when you meet for the Meal, wait for one another. Anyone who is hungry should eat at home, and then your meeting will not bring your condemnation." Over and over, Paul warns them of the Sacredness of this Meal, this Mass. The Sacrifice of Calvary, the partaking of His Body and Blood was an awesome occasion and not one of indifference, lukewarmness and revelry.
They had a New Covenant with God, in which He would be faithful to the end. These new converts to Christianity were to be fervent, prayerful and zealous. The Eucharist was the very core of their spirituality. Their God fed them with His own Body and Blood. His Spirit dwelt within them and they were in truth—sons of God.
St. Paul in his Epistle to the Hebrews makes it clear that the old sacrifices were repeated over and over because "bulls' and goats' blood were useless to take away sins." Jesus, however, has offered one single Sacrifice. "By virtue of that one single offering, He has achieved the eternal perfection of all whom He is sanctifying." (Heb. 10:11-15)
It was important for the Christian community to ever keep that Sacrifice in mind. It was to be proclaimed for all to remember. "Do not stay away from the meetings of the community," Paul urged the Hebrews, "but encourage one another to go." (Heb. 10:25)
Whatever suffering, persecution and pain they might endure, the Eucharist was their strength, their hope and their courage. Their Jesus would be with them to the end of time.
How true were the inspired words of Malachi: "From farthest east to farthest west My Name is honored among the nations and everywhere a sacrifice of incense is offered to My Name and a pure offering." (Mal. 1:11)
From the beginning, when man first began to live and breathe, he desired to see and communicate with God.
The Book of Genesis tells us how God fulfilled this need throughout Salvation History. God spoke to Adam in the Garden and walked with Henoch in the cool of the night.
Abraham spoke to God and heard Him promise a posterity as numerous as the stars in the universe.
Moses, in his turn, refused to lead his people to the Promised Land unless God promised to go with them. And so it was that He appeared to them in the form of fire at night and a cloud in the day. (Ex. 33:13-17)
When He gave His chosen people the Commandments He requested an ark be made and He took up His abode among men in the Ark of the Covenant. This Presence was so awesome that when Uzzah only touched the Ark to keep it from falling, he was struck dead. (2 Sam. 6:7)
After Solomon built the Temple of the Lord, we read in the Book of Kings that "when the priests came out of the sanctuary, the Cloud filled the Temple of Yahweh." "Then Solomon said, "Yahweh has chosen to dwell in the thick cloud. Yes, I have built you a dwelling, a place for you to live in forever." (1 Kgs. 8:10-13)
During the time of the Roman conquest, the Temple built by Herod had within it a portion called the Holy of Holies. Here God dwelt and the High Priest offered incense to Him.
The people were at peace, knowing that God was with them. When Jesus died, however, the veil of the Temple was rent in two. It was as if God burst forth from His hiding place to rest in our hearts and in the Eucharist.
God has instilled within each of us a desire to know and see Him. Throughout Salvation History He spoke directly to some and through Prophets to others.
When the time arrived to send His Son, it was the ultimate in communication. Now, His chosen people could both see and speak to their God face to face.
In all past experiences of communication there was always the element of Faith. Even as men spoke to God there was never that total vision that would exclude the necessity of Faith. When Moses asked to see God's Face he was told that to see such glory meant death. Our poor human nature was not capable of such joy.
It requires humility to accept God on His terms, and so when He came in the flesh many did not believe. He preached to the poor, to those whose minds were not cluttered with intellectual speculation and whose hearts were unencumbered by possessions. In these kinds of people Faith would grow. Faith would mean an adherence to the words of Jesus as the words of the Father.
Was there anyone in Jerusalem who would not have rejoiced at the thought of speaking directly to God—face to face? Why was it that so many missed Him? Why did so many desire to have their God visibly in their midst and then never see Him as He walked by their side?
Jesus often reprimanded His people for their lack of Faith and He told the disciples of John the Baptist, "Happy is the man who does not lose faith in Me." (Matt. 11:5,6) And so it was that many found it difficult to believe that God was made Man—a man like to themselves in all things except sin.
In the beginning God had made man to His Image but now God came down and lived in the image of man—God-Man. The miracles He performed were to prove His Divinity and Authority. To accept even these proofs demanded Faith.
No matter how much man desired to see God in this life, when he did, it took Faith to believe that the One sent by God was God—He looked and spoke like a man when in reality He was Lord of all, Creator and Incarnate Wisdom.
To those who had their own idea of how God would manifest Himself, Jesus was an imposter. To those who were humble of heart, He was Saviour. Those who were complicated wanted a concept to ponder, a voice to hear, a revelation to decipher. Those who were poor in spirit desired God more than themselves. They were open to Truth and ready to change their lives according to that Truth.
There was a quality of soul that all those who believed possessed and that quality was Faith. Faith made them leave all things. Hope made them sure that having nothing and Jesus, was better than having everything without Him. Love made them want to be like Him, cling to His word and one day be with Him in the Kingdom.
In order for men, outside His time in history, to persevere in this determination, they would need His Presence. They would need that invisible quality that gave mere men the power to change and follow their Lord.
The Spirit's Indwelling would give them this invisible reality —Grace—a Participation in the very Nature of God—God within us.
God would not only inspire men, He would dwell in their midst and through His Spirit live in their very souls as in a Temple. This new status gave man grave responsibilities. He had to change all those temperament defects that were not in line with his new dignity as son of God.
John did not leave his converts in any doubt as to their obligations. "We can be sure that we are in God," he told his followers, "only when the one who claims to be living in Him is living the same kind of life as Christ lived." (1 Jn. 2:5,6)
Through Sanctifying Grace man became the dwelling place of the Trinity. God took up His abode, no longer as a cloud or pillar of fire, but placed Himself in the very souls of those covered by the waters of Baptism. All those so privileged shall be as "first born sons" in the Kingdom of Heaven. (Heb. 12:23)
This grace, this life of the Trinity in the soul, had to grow and develop in a way that was a witness to the world.
There were various ways man could grow in grace. Jesus mentioned that doing the Father's Will was food for His Soul. He promised that whoever did His Father's Will was His brother, mother and sister. All three are blood relationships.
He promised us a reward when we do the least act of kindness for our neighbor, for what we do to him we do to Jesus. The reading of Scripture, too, is food for the soul.
All these means of grace are helpful to man but most of them depend upon our motives. Our acts of kindness are often mixed with selfish motives. Our adherence to His Will is sometimes rebellious or at least in an attitude of enduring the inevitable.
When we read His Word in Scripture our minds wander and its various interpretations escape us.
God would not leave us with various means of grace that were so dependent upon us—upon our motives—our intelligence. He knew, as Scripture reminds us, what man was made of and He would not permit our growth in Him to be the least dependent upon ourselves.
His Grace would always be free, always be a pure gift. God's Infinite Mind devised a way to guarantee man a pure source of grace, totally independent of man's holiness or worth: a soul that could always be pure and holy as He is pure and holy, by partaking of His Body and Blood.
He devised a way by which He would be food for man's soul to grow, develop and one day enter His own Kingdom as a son.
"He who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood lives in Me and I live in him." (Jn. 6:56) A real sharing of His Body and Blood enables God to live in each soul. It makes us all brothers and sisters because we share the same Father and partake of the same Body and Blood.
He knew that we would need Someone to see with our eyes and experience with our senses. We want to see, touch and taste what our Faith tells us exists—God.
What a marvel of Wisdom! We can see Him and live in Him without any interference with the Faith so necessary in this exile.
We can see Him and not die; we can touch Him and not be annihilated. We can speak to Him in the Eucharist and have that assurance that He has heard us.
Our Faith tells us He is truly, really and substantially present in the Eucharist.
Our hope gives us that joy which begins here and culminates in Eternity.
Our Love is set aflame by being cast into the Fire of His Love.
This Gift of Gifts—the Eucharist—permits us to talk to God like Moses, look upon His Face like Peter, become His dwelling place like Mary, be zealous like Paul, courageous like Stephen, repentant like Magdalen, enlightened like Philip, and loving like John.
It is more than power, more than solace in the heat, or a refuge in the storm.
The Eucharist is food for starving souls, His Presence in our midst, His grace in our souls, His companionship during our journey, His strength in our weakness, the center of our lives, the yeast in the dough of our spirituality.
The Eucharist is God with us—God in us.
My Jesus, Your love for me is beyond my comprehension. I am speechless at the thought that Infinite Intelligence dwells in this Bread and Wine before me. Your humility is so great and my pride so absurd. I love You in this Host and I thank You for stooping to this level for love of me.
What makes You so much desire to be with sinners? What makes You go to such extremes to be with us? Surely You knew, my Lord, that many would not accept Your Presence in the Eucharist. Your kind of love is different from mine. My love is easily discouraged and ready to quit at the first sight of obstacles. Give me that same unselfish love that You have, humble Jesus.
Obedient Jesus, no matter how unworthy Your priest may be You come to dwell in the Host in his hands when he breathes the words "This is My Body." You are content wherever he places You. You are patient no matter how alone You are in this Sacrament. You do not put up a struggle when many receive You unworthily. Teach me, dear Jesus, to be obedient to Your commands—to Your least wish—Your slightest desire. Grant that I may go where You place me, do Your will rather than my own and wait patiently for the time of Your consolation.
Eucharistic Jesus, only a few came to visit You today. What would happen if I went to the square and shouted, "He is here—He's here—here in the Host—here on this altar." Would You cry when they all turned away? Would it all seem futile to wait so patiently for just one visit from Your creatures? Is Your humility our stumbling block? Does Your obedience to the Father's Will strain our intelligence? Sweet Jesus, give me Faith to see and Hope to trust, and Love to stay near You, forsaken and forgotten.
Humble Jesus, grant that I may understand Your love for me in a better way. The One whom the heavens cannot contain has come down to live in this small Host. I am lukewarm but Your Love is a blazing fire. I am forgetful but You never cease to think of me. You are humility itself and I seek only myself. You wait and wait for me to visit You in Your voluntary Prison but I am so busy with petty things. Do Angels take my place when I'm not with You? Century passes century and still You are in this Sacrament of Love, and yet there seems to be so few who appreciate Your Sacrifice, Your Love, Your longing. Jesus, let me be a comfort to Your lonely Heart.
Lonely Jesus, is it not the essence of ingratitude for so many to believe in Your Real Presence in the Eucharist and never visit You? Does Your Heart leap for Joy when someone finally comes into Your Temple to say "Hello"? What must be Your pain if all they do is complain of their crosses and ask for more and more things. Are there many who come just to say "I love You, Jesus in the Sacred Host"? I praise You for Your Goodness and Love. Your Mercy has no end but I fear lukewarmness—the kind that never asks for mercy. Please, humble Jesus, make me fervent and grant that I may never take Your Presence for granted.
My hidden Lord, the world is in such a rush. People say they do not have time to visit You—others say You are only a symbol. Let the whole world see You hidden under this Eucharistic Species. What comfort would fill their hearts if they realized they could speak to You and You were really there to listen. Increase my Faith, too, for very often I take Your Presence for granted. During Holy Week when Your Presence is gone from the Church I realize how very empty everything would be without You.
Body of Christ, make me holy. Fill my weak soul with an overflowing of Grace so You and I may be as One. You have created me for Yourself. What an act of ingratitude to keep any part of me for myself. My weakness and pride make me forget You but Your humble Presence in the Eucharist stirs my soul to repentance. Let us be hidden together in love and union.
Humble—Jesus, my soul is often in darkness. Your Presence in my soul, as in the Host, is hidden from my eyes but I do believe You are there. Your Presence in my neighbor is also hard to discern and yet You have said, whatever I do to the least, I do for You. All these disguises You take on in this life demand Faith, and so, sweet Lord, I ask for more Faith. I want Your Presence in the Eucharist to be so real to me that I will receive from It the grace to see You in my neighbor, in the duties of the present moment, and in my own soul.
Eucharistic Jesus, I wish I had the talent of a poet to put in rhyme the wonders of Your Love. I wish I had the words of the Saints to tell You of my desires. I wish my mind was not so blank and my heart so empty, so I could say all those beautiful things Your Angels must say every day. I want so much to tell the world of Your Presence here in this Host and then guide them all to Your Throne. Accept my desires, dear Jesus, for my hands are empty of good works, my mind is blank, and my soul is parched from the desert heat. Accept then my wretchedness and wrap it in Your Power and change it all in the fire of Your Love.
The author prays that all those who read this booklet will have a deeper awareness of the Father's Mercy, the Son's Love and the Spirit's Power.
Printed with the ecclesiastical approval of
JOSEPH G. VATH, D.D.
Bishop of Birmingham
©1977 Eternal Word Television Network, Inc.
Scripture Quotations taken from Jerusalem Bible unless otherwise indicated