Devotional Thought for the Day:
48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; 50 this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. 51 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.” 52 The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?” 53 Jesus said to them, “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. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. John 6:48-57 (NAB)
40 Faith, joy, optimism. But not the folly of closing your eyes to reality.
As people are listening to Jesus, there is something wrong.
They get so distracted by what they can’t quite understand, that they give up something glorious. They went to him, because He was the Messiah, they expected Him to save them, to teach them, to heal them of their brokenness.
I struggle with the fact that because they couldn’t understand the teaching, because they couldn’t connect the dots, they walked away.
Don’t get it; it’s hard, and so they walked away, and left life on the table.
We don’t do well with mystery; we don’t hear Jesus’ offer about eternal life – about real life, about the resurrection. Because we go back to trying to discern whether he’s rolling real presence, or transubstantiation, or consubstantiation, or some other option which would satisfy our mind, and we starve our heart.
Some want to require others to understand this at a level far beyond how scripture teaches, and they drive them away with the same frustration we are not willing to admit that we share. So they force them to close their eyes to the reality as well. Far too much evangelism and apologetic material are geared this way, attempting to force people to believe our reasonable explanations of mysteries, rather than simply letting them be in awe.
In both situations, our inability to come up with a reason explanation results in such dissatisfaction that we close our eyes, that we refuse to believe what we see, that we refuse to hear what we hear. And we ignore the reality that is our life in Christ.
Consider Peter’s words a moment later, when Jesus asks if he is going to leave as well. “Nope, you have the words of life!” For Peter, man’s reason couldn’t trump God’s reality They were used to not getting it right away, they were used to getting the parables explained, and trying to figure out how He could speak words, and calm storms. How He spoke words, and blind eyes could see, and with limbs could function. These apostles, these they didn’t leave, they heard words of life that caused the dead to rise.
They couldn’t explain it either! They struggled with what it all meant. Even as Jesus is about to ascend, the wounds still fresh in His hands, his ankles, his side, they doubt, scripture tells us. They couldn’t come up with reasonable explanations for what they saw, they didn’t understand everything He taught, even when they had it explained.
But they knew Jesus; they saw his handiwork, and they clung to the one who did things they couldn’t understand.
Because He was real. Because He was present, they saw His work; they heard His promises, and they depended on Him when they couldn’t understand.
Reality is beyond our ability to reason; the logic is beyond our ability to discern. THe apostles went with reality, their faith in the one they know.
Our reality, our life is in Jesus….even though we don’t understand it all. He is the one who died and rose, the one who spoke and created, the one who said, “eat my body and drink my blood – and live.
Live my friends, knowing the Lord is merciful. Even though that may not seem all that reasonable either.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 251-252). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional/Discussion Thought of the Day:
16 When we drink the cup of blessing, aren’t we taking into ourselves the blood, the very life, of Christ? And isn’t it the same with the loaf of bread we break and eat? Don’t we take into ourselves the body, the very life, of Christ? 17 Because there is one loaf, our many-ness becomes one-ness—Christ doesn’t become fragmented in us. Rather, we become unified in him. We don’t reduce Christ to what we are; he raises us to what he is. 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 (MSG)
52 Then the Jews started arguing among themselves, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ 53 Jesus replied to them: In all truth I tell you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise that person up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in that person. John 6:52-56 (NJB)
“Don’t recoil: your life is going to be a soothing of suffering. This is why you are a disciple of the Master!” (1)
“When I made you a present of that Life of Jesus, I wrote in it this inscription: ‘May you seek Christ. May you find Christ. May you love Christ.’ These are three very distinct steps. Have you at least tried to live the first one?” (2)
When I started writing this blog this morning, I was thinking about the chapel service I led last night for a bunch of seminarians. Great guys, who for the last three weeks I have been privileged to watch engaged in worship, To engage in worship with for a short period of time. Last night, I had the greatest honor, as I fed them the body of Christ, as another pastor gave them the cup of blessing.
The reaction of some was gratefulness, thanks, rejoicing… comments I overheard talked about how they felt more united to each other. That’s cool.
It’s one of the reasons for this blog….those Bible verses above, make it clear – this isn’t just ritual, it is a communion, a time to give thanks, a time to realize the presence of Jesus Christ’s Body and Blood, given and shed for us, that we may live!
This morning, instead of opening the Furrow, (the devotional book I am reading) for some reason I opened the Way. (Both are written by the same guy, St Josemaria Escriva) The two quotes are from the introduction and the forward, They hit me even harder with the necessity of our people to regularly receive the Body and Blood of Christ.
The first is that we encounter much suffering. In the last two weeks, not only have I seen it in the eyes of my friends, my parishioners, but I have seen it as well in the hearts of my brothers who shepherd God’s people, who feed them the Body and Blood of Christ. Severe pain, caused by hard transitions. Some are forced, some are taken on because they knew it was time, even though the pain is excruciating. (Including the pain of those who second guess and play armchair quarterback) We are called to soothe each others wounds, and that is critical in our actions, in our life.
And the best place for dealing with such suffering is on our knees, receiving the Body of Christ. drinking from His fount, reveling in His cleansing presence in our very bodies, in our very lives. For us who are called to soothe suffering and for those who are suffering, this time is precious, it shouldn’t be rushed, it becomes a time of peace.
For the other comment comes into play. Seek Christ, Find Christ, Love Christ. For He is seeking you indeed, but here at the altar, you find him. You know His love, you turn and love in turn.
We devalue this precious time with God in so many ways. When we think it only worth a twice a month offering. When we fail to find ourselves united together with Christ, when we fail to work to see the entire Church able to participate in it together. When we refuse to let what we believe call us to the altar, instead maintaining it must be the name on our church that determines who is worthy. When we fail to point out the healing that occurs, the relationships mended, the life given. We devalue it when we reduce our appreciation of it to what we can observe, when we evaluate the celebration and the bread an from a rational, logical, scientific position. When we fail to recognize the Body and Blood of Christ given and shared with us, for us. When we fail to see the Body of Christ, all those whom it was given for.
This time is precious, it is ordained by God. That alone should be enough for us… but there is so much more…..
Come my friends, you are invited to the feast that is the foretaste of the feast to come…. Let us rejoice and go to the house of the Lord!
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Location 72). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
(2) Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 111-113). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.