The Eucharist - Still A Hard Teaching
By Matt Marchand
Do you believe that Jesus Christ was fully human and was fully God? This is the belief that literally makes us a Christian. We profess it at our Baptism and renew this belief at our Confirmation. Many people, in Jesus' time and today, can look upon Jesus and see a man but cannot bring themselves to see God.
We say that saints and prophets are people who participated in God's work on earth, spreading God's message of hope and love, performing miracles, and being examples for us of faith and love. We could say that God used them for His divine work. However, Jesus was not a human that god used to save the world, the human named Jesus was God and saved the world.
We all know non-Christians and atheists. People do not believe that Jesus was God in human form. Sometimes even the good Christian struggles to believe this. This teaching is hard and so were many of Jesus' other teachings. The greatest of these were when Jesus was teaching his dicsiples about the Eucharist.
Jesus said, “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" (JN 6:22-71 Full Discourse). The people argued, "This saying is hard, who can accept it?" (JN 6:60). Why? Because Jesus was referring to something that seems inplausible, that Jesus would come to us in the form of food, and that we are meant to eat that food in order to have eternal life. For many, who did not fully understand, it was like following a great leader only to hear him say that at the core of everything is canabalism. Nope. Most people would walk away (rightly so under that understanding).
What was only to be revealed at the last supper was that the God who had the power to empty Himself, come down to earth, and become human (Phil 2), also has the power to take the form of bread and wine and become the food for eternal life. He does not give himself to us in the form of flesh and blood (canabalism) but in the form of food we were meant to consume, bread and wine. Even though it is food in the proper form for eating, it IS the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ.
Is Jesus like God or God? Is he being used by God in the world or is He God? Is the Eucharist like the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus, or is it the real presence? Is God using bread and wine to convey grace, or is he becoming bread and wine to convey Himself to us? (which of course includes many more graces).
Be strong in your faith. Give your faith first and then seek understanding. This is Catholicism. "The Eucharist is 'the source and summit of the Christian life.' 'The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch.' (CCC 1324). The Eucharist is our share in Christ, it is our share in Christ's passion and death, and it is our share of eternal life. This is only possible if the Eucharist IS the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ and it is only possible if Jesus Christ is truly present. Therefore, to be close to the Eucharist is to be close to Jesus Christ.
Is Jesus to be a friend you only text or call on a cell phone (pray), or is Jesus a friend you are willing to visit (go to Church/Mass). Do you just pass pleasantries with Jesus? Or is Jesus the friend that you can truly bare your soul too? St. John Bosco said, "If you want a few blessings, spend a few minutes in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, if you want many blessings, spend many minutes." Not only does the True Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist allow us to be near Jesus, in consuming the Eucharist, Christ becomes one with us. He is in us like He is in the Father, we join the unity of the Holy Trinity. This is why St. John Vianney said these words before receiving communion, "Lord, I know that I am not worthy to receive you, but I need you!" The more we invest ourselves into union with God through the Eucharist, the more united we will be with God, and by default our fellow Christians too.