Saturday of the Third Week of Easter
Acts 9:31-42 + John 6:60-69
“Do you also want to leave?”
The difference between the divine food of the Bread of Life and any ordinary human food is that human food strengthens the human body only according to the nature of the food: which is to say, according to whatever vitamins and minerals and so on are within it. If you eat an apple, it doesn’t matter if you’re a sinner or a saint: your body will be nourished in just the same way. Likewise, if you eat a steak, it doesn’t matter if you’re a scoundrel or a nobleman: your body will be nourished in just the same way. When you then leave the dinner table, regardless of your moral and spiritual character, you can use the physical strength from that ordinary human food to commit good deeds or bad deeds: virtuous actions or vicious actions, as you will.
But divine food is different. Divine food cannot strengthen you to accomplish whatever you wish. It can only strengthen you to accomplish what God wills, as God designs. The divine food of the Most Holy Eucharist strengthens Christians for their vocations, so that the grace of the other sacraments might flowers as those sacraments are designed by God. Baptismal grace strengthens you to conform your life according to the pattern of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection. The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony conforms spouse’s lives that they might, according to God’s particular will, beget and rear children in the Faith, in additional to themselves—husband and wife—grow in unity as persons. Likewise, the Sacrament of Holy Orders conforms a man’s life to preach, to offer sacrifice, and to offer the charity of God through the other sacraments.
The divine food of the Most Holy Eucharist, then, only gives you the strength to accomplish what God wants to accomplish through you. Divine food is for divine purposes. In a similar way, 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 Christians approach God from the perspective of a consumer culture, where God offers us bargains and deals. We can be tempted to consider His grace to be a cash-back program for participating in the sacraments. By contrast, 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 in John 6 become Flesh in the Holy Eucharist. The strength of that Word made Flesh can helps each of 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. Yet we have to share wholeheartedly in it according to our own will. That’s why each of us has to sacrifice her own will to the Will of God.