The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
June 14, 2020 – Corpus Christi (Body of Christ) - John 6:51-58
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Much of the bread I ate as a youngster was store-bought. It was white and soft and tasteless. Mostly it was used to hold a slice or two of American cheese or baloney. It was not considered unhealthy, although it wasn’t sold as a health food either. To call bread “the staff of life” would raise eyebrows. Such a designation would be considered inaccurate to say the least.
Yet historians often note that civilization was partly based on the invention of bread. That’s because humans needed the nourishment of grains and one of the best ways to preserve grain was to bake it into bread. In that sense, for many cultures bread was not only nutritious, it also kept people healthy and alive.
And that’s how it was at the time when Jesus lived. So, when he talked about how he would use bread to connect believers with him, they easily understood his point. They knew that the eating of bread was directly related to their personal survival.
At the Last Supper, he took bread, broke it and said that this bread that he was giving to them was his body. Their immediate response might have been surprise or wonder, but given the nature of that meal, they eventually believed and saw that the bread that Jesus blessed was a way that Jesus would remain present to them in the future. They saw it as a continuation of his presence even after his resurrection and ascension. And for the next two-thousand years Christians around the world, in remembrance of him, have continued to connect with Jesus in the Eucharist.
The Eucharistic bread and wine bring into our midst Jesus himself. And Jesus comes to us giving us life with God. He wants not only to be a major part of our lives, but he also wants to remind us that through him, we can bring his presence and message to others.
Many who read this have had the experience of receiving Jesus in the Eucharistic bread for most of their lives. Yet such repetition might create a problem. Receiving communion can become merely a routine act, a habit that we don’t think much about. Each year the Catholic Church devotes one Sunday as a reminder of the great significance of celebrating and receiving the Eucharist. It’s a time to recall the importance of our personally meeting Jesus, conversing with him and taking him into our daily lives, as necessary food for our sacred journey.
©David M. Thomas, PhD