Saturday, August 22, 2009

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time a Little Late

Since tomorrow's the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time in the Church I figured now would be a good time to catch up on last week's reflection. I also was just watching a movie with my husband that was just getting a little too scary for me to handle. So while he finishes watching a movie about people who have been infected with some weird disease and now seem to crave human blood, I can reflect on the continuing Bread of Life discourse in the Gospel of John.

Last Sunday's readings can be found here: 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Question: How am I strengthened by receiving Jesus in the Eucharist?

"Holy Communion augments our union with Christ" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1391). Indeed, the Catechism teaches that "the principal fruit" of receiving the Eucharist is "an intimate union with Christ Jesus," and that "life in Christ has its foundation in the Eucharistic banquet" (CCC 1391). At the same time, "Holy Communion separates us from sin" (CCC 1393). "The Eucharist strengthens our charity, which tends to be weakened in daily life" (CCC 1394). "By the same charity that it enkindles in us, the Eucharist preserves us from future mortal sins. The more we share the life of Christ and progress in his friendship, the more difficult it is to break away from him by mortal sin" (CCC 1395).

All three of the readings and the Psalm are wonderful this week. First we have the reading from Proverbs about the feast that Wisdom prepares for us. Through this feast we can forsake foolishness and gain understanding. That's a banquet I want to be part of. Then we get Psalm 34: Taste and see the goodness of the Lord!! We can start to see a theme here. In the reading from Ephesians, St. Paul urges the Ephesians to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to seek the will of the Lord. He urges them to watch how they live and not fall into evil. We must also seek God's will, and the hard part is accepting it, especially when it isn't our own.

Finally the Gospel to which our question directly addresses. Over the last several weeks we have gotten almost the entire sixth chapter of John proclaiming Jesus as the Bread of Life. I think we have one more week left. Here we see the Jews specifically wonder how this man can give his own flesh to them to eat. Instead of correcting them and telling them that He is only talking symbolically, he stresses the point even further:
Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you do not have life within you.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
has eternal life,
and I will raise him on the last day.
For my flesh is true food,
and my blood is true drink.

This is so powerful. I love reading this chapter. The really sad part is the next part of the chapter, which we read tomorrow, so I won't spoil anything.

I do feel real strength in the Eucharist, but not all the time. Sometimes I don't and it makes me very sad. But when I do it is amazing. I think sometimes it depends on where I am personally. Sometimes I come to the Eucharist needing strength and I pray for Jesus to strengthen (or heal) me in whatever way I need. Upon receiving the Eucharist, I can feel myself being strengthened and ready to go out into the world again. Those times when I am most in need of strength or healing or whatever is when I most feel like I get something from the Eucharist.

Other times I receive the Eucharist and my mind wonders. I watch everyone else going to Communion and I don't stop to listen to hear Jesus in my heart or feel His strength in my life. Those are times when I'm not sad that I didn't feel strengthened, but I'm disappointed in myself for not taking the opportunity to be with Christ in the most intimate way possible while we are here on Earth.

As disappointed as I am, I have to remind myself that whether I am aware of it or not Christ is with me. Not just in the Eucharist, of course, but always, everywhere, and in every way. But most intimately He is in the Eucharist that we consume into our own bodies. Such an amazing gift ... and mystery. Obviously difficult to understand, the Jews that were with Jesus at the time of the "Bread of Life" discourse didn't get it and many, many people today still don't get it. It is a hard teaching, one of the hardest. But also one of the most beautiful. The Love of Christ is everywhere in this gift of the Eucharist.

As a last quick note: if you missed my post last week there was a beautiful video in it that links the celebration of the Eucharist with the crucifixion. I highly recommend going to check it out if you missed it. Link to my post is here.

That's my reflection for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The movie is over (my husband said it was actually a rather stupid movie, so I didn't miss much) and now it's late and time for bed. And ... time for thoughts from my friends in the blogosphere:

How are you strengthened by receiving Jesus in the Eucharist?

(For those reading this on Facebook, you can comment here or you can follow the link below this post that says "View Original Post" to see comments others have left on the original post on my blog. Comments can be left in either place.)

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