Saturday of the Third Week of Easter
Acts 9:31-42 + John 6:60-69
April 21, 2018
“To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
What does it mean to accept the Bread of Life? For cradle Catholics, it’s not hard to accept the Church’s beliefs about the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. But to integrate that belief into our daily life is profoundly hard, no matter how long you’ve been a Catholic. To receive Holy Communion on Sunday is a very simple action. But to allow the grace of His Body and Blood to transform you from within, so that Jesus lives in you, leading your life 24/7? That’s the life of a saint.
Or you could put it this way: the key is that the Eucharist is divine food. The difference between it and human food is that human food strengthens the human body according to whatever vitamins and minerals are inside it. It doesn’t matter if you’re a sinner or a saint: if you eat an apple, your body will be nourished in just the same way. It doesn’t matter if you’re a scoundrel or a hero: if you eat a steak, your body will be nourished in just the same way. You can use the physical strength from that food to commit good deeds or bad deeds: virtuous actions or vicious actions.
But divine food is different. Divine food cannot strengthen you to accomplish whatever you wish. Divine food only can strengthen you to accomplish what God wills. Divine food only gives you the strength to accomplish what God wants to accomplish through you. Divine food is for divine purposes. Likewise, prayer teaches us what God wants us to do with our lives, not how to get what we’re wanting from God.
Too often in our modern day, we approach God from the perspective of a consumer culture, where God offers us deals: where His grace is like a cash-back program for participating in the sacraments. John 6 is about Jesus sub-ordinating His whole Self—Flesh and Blood, soul and divinity—to His Spouse, the Church. That Church includes you as one of her members. These passages from the Word of God become Flesh in the Holy Eucharist. The strength of that Word made Flesh helps us to nurture the spousal, nuptial bond with Christ. This bond is unbreakable because the one Who has called us to that union with Him is Himself divine.