The Bread That I Will Give Is My Flesh by Rev. Jack Peterson
Reprinted with permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"
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John wrote to show that Christ was
the Messiah, the Divine Son of God.
Jesus said to the crowds: "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."
The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you , unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever."
Most of us on our last night before leaving town would throw a party, invite those we really care about, and enjoy an evening filled with stories, laughter and good food. Jesus, on his last night, chose to wash feet and give the world the inestimable gift of the Eucharist.
The Eucharist is a sacrifice. The Son of the Father became a man in order to heal a broken world. He saved us by offering His life to the Father in an act of obedient love. He poured out His life to forgive us our sins, restore us to a healthy relationship with the Father, and make possible the gift of eternal life. This total gift of himself to the Father is the greatest act of love the world has ever known. In order to capture this mighty work, this saving love, and make it possible to properly remember it, enter into its mystery, and become one with Jesus in his self-offering, He fashioned the Eucharist. "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."
The Eucharist is a meal. It brings unity. It creates family. It nourishes the soul for life's arduous journey. It increases love. It gathers the broken-hearted, offers healing and restores hope.
The Eucharist is Presence. Jesus had to go; He wanted to stay. He did both: "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him." Divine wisdom thus created a masterpiece. Jesus left a way for His disciples and friends to enter into the most intimate communion with Him. For those with faith, the Eucharist is a place of refuge, a source of immeasurable comfort and a chance to rest one's head on the breast of our saving Lord. There is no more profound way to eater into union with Christ this side of heaven than actively participating in the Mass and receiving holy Communion.
The Eucharist is a commissioning: "Go in peace to love and serve the Lord." After having been nourished at the table of both God's Word and His precious Body and Blood, we are sent to build the Kingdom of God. We are propelled into the world to bring Christ to every corner, to transform the world like leaven from within, and to pour out our lives in imitation of Christ and in loving service of our neighbor. We, as the body of Christ, participate in His saving mission; we are blessed, broken and given for the life of the world.
Lord Jesus, open my eyes to the length, depth and height of Your redeeming love, poured out for us in the Eucharist. May my response be to pour out my life in thanksgiving to You by washing the feet of my neighbor. May I be transformed into Your likeness and carry on Your saving work. "Whoever eats this bread will live forever."
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