“And the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” John 6:51
The Church teaches and has affirmed through the centuries that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our Christian Faith. Why? Because the Eucharist is none other than Jesus Christ himself. For almost as long as she has been instituted, the Church has defended herself against many errant theologians and heretical teachings from Arius to Martin Luther; and even today the struggle continues with the emergence of none denominational ecclesial communities. In almost every instance, they deny one simple reality, that the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist. Of course, we believe, or do we?
In today’s Gospel we continue reading John 6 and the “Bread of Life Discourse”; and we pick up from where we left off last Sunday. Jesus had just said to the crowd “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” This weekend we read that upon hearing this, the Jews murmured, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother? Then how can he say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jn 6:42. It is obvious that the Jews don’t quite understand and in their murmuring, they are ridiculing the thought that Jesus has come down from heaven and snickering at the idea that He is the bread of life. But Jesus continues, and twice more proclaims that he is the bread of life that has come down from heaven. As if this wasn’t hard enough teaching to accept by the Jews, Jesus then says some even more extraordinary, requiring faith to understand not reason; He says, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” Jn. 6:51
As we continue to read John Chapter 6 over the next couple of weeks, we will learn that this teaching is completely unacceptable to the Jews, and to some of the disciples as well. The crowd becomes near riotous, and finally they abandon Jesus in Capernaum over this one teaching. We could be harsh and judgmental about the sequence of events, as the crowd moves from belief in Jesus after witnessing the multiplication of the loaves earlier in the chapter, to unbelief, failing to accept that Jesus is the true bread from heaven. However, are we living our faith and our lives as though we really believe that the Eucharist is in fact Jesus himself? If a stranger comes into our community, will they observe this reality in us by our actions or by our interacts with one another? We, God’s people, must live out this teaching not because its important, but because it is true. There are several religious orders that dedicate themselves and their lives to Perpetual Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. They, through their devotion give witness that the Eucharist is the source and summit of their Christian Faith and Life, because it is Jesus who they adore, the True Presents, and not a symbol. How exactly does one live out this teaching in a practical way that doesn’t require joining a monastery?
Our late friend and fellow parishioner Francis Moos lived out this teaching admirably. Not only was he in attendance for daily Mass during the week and of course on the weekends, but he was also an avid adorer of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. He held dear his relationship with Jesus so much so that he was a frequent visitor in the chapel. Last spring during the shutdown of our church due to the pandemic, Francis was devastated that he could not receive Communion nor could he spend time with Jesus in Adoration or Holy Hour. It was known that he would come to the church parking lot, and prayed from afar, sitting in his Buick; hoping that he could soon one day return to Mass. Francis then learned that Father Gilberto was recording Mass on Saturday afternoons to be streamed later on YouTube. He begged Father to allow him to attend the recordings; Francis promised that he would not interfere, not make a sound and stay out of camera range. He would do anything so that he could receive Holy Communion, so that he could have this “Living Bread” that is Jesus. Father Gilberto moved by this man’s desire for the Eucharist agreed and allowed him to be in attendance during the recordings each week; and Francis true to his word, sat quietly in a corner making no fuse, just humbly worshiping and grateful that he was receiving Communion
Several months later this dear man, Francis Moos, was called home to the Lord. I did not know him long and others might have known him better, but I do know this. Francis lived devoted to the Eucharist, not because it was important theology but because it is Jesus, the True Bread from Heaven, given to us for the life of the world.