The Bread of Life...
There is story about St. John Vianney. Every day one of his parishioner came to the Church and sat there for long time looking at the Tabernacle. Once St. John Vianney went up to him and asked, “what are you doing?” The parishioner replied simply, “I look at Jesus and Jesus looks at me.” The Gospel reading this week is the second of five Sundays on the Sixth Chapter of John, the chapter on the Bread of Life discourse. Last Sunday's Gospel from the beginning of chapter 6 presented the miracle of the loaves and fish.
When the people who had eaten the loaves and fish went looking for Jesus, and they asked, “Rabbi, how did you get here.” He didn’t answer their question. Instead he addressed the reason why they were looking for him: they were looking for another free meal. He tells them to seek Bread that will last forever, the Bread He will give. People told Jesus “Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.” This we read in our first reading, “Then the Lord said to Moses: I am going to rain down bread from heaven for you (Exodus 16:4).” We read in the Book of Wisdom “Instead of this, you nourished your people with food of angels and furnished them bread from heaven, ready to hand, untoiled for, endowed with all delights and conforming to every taste (Wisdom 16:20).” The wilderness manna was not false bread; it was merely a sign of the imperishable bread, the Eucharist. Manna did not take them to the heavenly reality, but Jesus himself the true bread of life which take us to heaven. The manna, the bread came from heaven, nourished only by the body. Christ gives us his very self as the bread of life that nourishes the soul.
We celebrate the Eucharist and have a deep encounter with Christ at Mass and at the reception of communion. We also have a deep encounter with the Eucharistic Presence of the Lord in our of Eucharistic Adoration. All Catholic Parishes celebrate Eucharistic Adoration in some form or other. All Catholic Churches have times that the Blessed Sacrament is exposed all day for adoration, just as we do here on Fridays.
Eucharist is not just food for our journey, it is also the end of our journey, heaven. How is heaven look like? The heaven, saints, angels, is full communion with God. At every Mass, heaven touches the earth. All saints and angels are present at the Mass. Jesus said to the people, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent(John 16:29).” We can see only bread, but in the Eucharist Jesus gives himself. Jesus said, "Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."
Eucharist is a meal: participation in His Body and Blood, sacrifice: participation Jesus’ offering of his body on the Cross and Eucharist is thanksgiving: Jesus gives himself and thanks the Father, and we who receive Jesus in Communion, give thanks to God for His Son.
When we gather to celebrate Eucharist, we are a people gathered in faith. Faith brings trust, which gives us the strength to face the challenges of day to day life to live that faith. We celebrate and proclaim our faith in the Eucharist and take with us share with one another.