October 1, 2023
Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary on the Lake,
Thank you to all the volunteers who have helped put on the Roast Beef Dinner at Sacred Heart this year!
Last week I shared the story of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and the role Jesus’ presence played in her conversion and the rest of her life. Over the years, Catholics’ understanding and belief in the Eucharist has been falling. The Church has always taught that the Eucharist is really Jesus present, under the form of Bread and Wine. It is not a mere symbol. We are made for Heaven and Jesus gives us Himself as Divine Food for Heaven. Jesus talked about this gift of Himself most directly in the Bread of Life Discourse in the sixth chapter of John. Verse 48: “I am the bread of life.”
John 6:49-58: “Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. 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.” The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat?”
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. 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. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.
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. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”
A valid question that has been asked is this one: Why does it matter what I believe? Why does it matter if I believe the Eucharist is only a symbol instead of it actually being Jesus? I would answer that question partly this way: What I believe about the Eucharist will change radically my expectation for Him to work in my life.
What I believe about Jesus in the Eucharist is connected to faith, which is connected to trust. Trust is the boundary for how close I will let someone get to me, how much I will let them do in my life, etc. For example, if I don’t trust someone, I won’t lend them my car and I wouldn’t ask for their help. My faith in them isn’t strong enough and that means the relationship will be limited.
If I don’t believe Jesus is present in the Eucharist it doesn’t mean He isn’t, but it will be a limiting factor on what I will allow Him to do in my life. If I don’t believe Jesus is present in the Eucharist, I will have no expectation that receiving Communion will bring grace to my life. I will end up tying His hands. He can help but I won’t give Him permission to help. The Eucharistic revival is about us opening our hearts to receive more fully the greatest gift Jesus ever gave us. He created us, we were captured by sin, He rescued us, He redeemed us, and He gives us food for the Journey as He accompanies us toward Heaven.
A prayer we can all pray is “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.” The more we trust the more He can work!