When I was a kid, I thought of Church as something my mom made me do with lots of rituals and stuff. I never thought of it as essential for my survival. But Jesus teaches something very profound in John’s Gospel when he was talking about Holy Communion (the Eucharist). In effect he says that without Holy Communion we will starve and die spiritually. Here is what Jesus says, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” (John 6:53)
Even as a young adult I never thought of Holy Communion as essential for my life, as something that, if I didn’t receive it regularly, would cause me to die spiritually. But it makes sense doesn’t it? If we don’t eat food in our physical lives we grow weak and eventually die. It is the same with Holy Communion. Remember what happened in the Book of Exodus: the people were without food in the desert and they feared for their lives. So God gave them bread from heaven called “manna” that they collected each morning. Without eating that bread from heaven they would never have made it to the Promised Land; they would have died in the desert. It is the same with us. Without receiving Jesus, our Living Manna from heaven in Holy Communion, we will not make it to our Promised Land of Heaven! I guess it’s not just a ritual after all; it is essential for our survival.
Don’t miss Holy Communion! Jesus urges you to eat. A mother and father in my parish recently noticed their daughter wasn’t eating. Within a very short time they took her to the doctor, who diagnosed the problem, and now the young girl is able to eat again. Those parents would have moved heaven and earth to make sure their daughter was able to eat. It is the same with God. Jesus urges us to eat, to receive the Holy Communion every Sunday without fail. Jesus urges us with this word: “Unless!”
Here is a powerful presentation of the “Jesus Bread of Life” discourse from the Movie, The Gospel of John. The movie is a worthy production and a word-for-word rendering of the Gospel of John. You can order it here: The Gospel of John.
2 Replies to “Unless….”
“But Jesus teaches something very profound in John’s Gospel when he was teaching about Holy Communion (the Eucharist). In effect he says that without Holy Communion we will starve and die spiritually. Here is what Jesus says, ‘Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you’ (John 6:53). The clip from the Gospel of John movie is excellent. After watching it, I immediately ordered a copy of the film. The reason why the Church requires our participation at Mass each week is because we regard the Eucharist as so precious. The Eucharist is both spiritual medicine and heavenly food. Holy Communion constitutes the rations from that Promised Shore to which we travel as Christians. The Church clings to this sacrament as her heart because we would have none starve; the tragedy is that many have made themselves strangers at the Lord’s Table. A number of non-Catholic churches rarely or never celebrate the Lord’s Supper. Those that do, usually regard it as a quaint nostalgia with grape juice and crackers. Lacking a valid priesthood, their communion is a pale shadow of what we know as Catholics. Catholics regard the bread and wine as transformed into the very reality of the risen Christ. We receive our Lord’s body and blood, literally the living Christ who wants us to share in his life. The Memorial prayer (anamnesis) and acclamation reminds us that the sacrament makes present that which it signifies. The Jews murmured because the notion of drinking blood and eating human flesh was offensive to them. Jesus repeats himself over and over again. If he meant symbolic flesh and blood there would be no problem, but our Lord was graphic. He is establishing a new covenant and covenants cannot be made with fake blood. He would not take back his strong words and so many walked away from Jesus. Christianity without the Catholic Eucharist is crippled and tainted with a lethal form of atheism. Just as many of Christ’s Jewish followers refused to believe, many Christians today also deny this truth or attempt to soften or redefine it out of existence. The Church is faithful to Christ and to the successors of St. Peter. When our Lord turned to the Twelve, and asked if they would abandon him, too, Peter retorted, “Where would we go? You have the words of eternal life.” There is still nowhere else to go. We believe in the “real presence” of the Eucharist for one very simple reason, JESUS SAYS IT IS SO.
Thanks Fr. Jenkins. I routiinely ask parishioners and others to memorize John 6:53. You are right, Jesus couldn’t have been clearer.
Comments are closed.