Fr. Pecchie's Message 08/15/21

Christ packs three momentous lessons into this discourse on the Eucharist in today's Gospel passage. First, He points out the mystery of faith, that no one can believe in Him "unless he is drawn by the Father." Faith in Jesus Christ supplies us with life's only dependable fuel, and yet, faith in Christ is God's gift, no one can conjure it up on their own, in a chemistry lab.

When we look at the small white Host, no scientific test can prove that Jesus Christ is truly present there, body, blood, soul, and divinity. And yet, we know that He is; we have been given the gift of faith. This is why the priest says, after the consecration at each Mass: "Let us proclaim the mystery of faith."

Second, this faith in Christ leads to "eternal life." Later in the Gospel, Jesus tells us that eternal life consists in knowing "the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom [God has] sent" (John 17:3).  In Biblical language, "knowing" implies deep interpersonal intimacy, the kind of relationship we all yearn for. That we can have a relationship like that with God himself, who is more lovable, more beautiful than any other person is or can be, is the Good News of Jesus Christ. God hasn't kept His distance from us sinners; He wants us to know Him and share His life.

Third, Jesus Himself is the "bread" of this eternal life, its source and sustenance. Without bread, without food, physical life perishes. Without Jesus, without His "flesh for the life of the world" in the Eucharist, our life of intimate communion with God will perish. It's that simple - and it's that crucial. Eleven times in this discourse Jesus speaks of Himself as the bread of life; He's really hoping that we'll get the message. The gift of faith gives us access to eternal life, and the Eucharist makes that life grow within us.

We accept and believe this on faith, but it is not a blind faith. God supports our faith in many ways. He knows that the culture of this fallen world is constantly trying to erode our faith. And so, in His wisdom and according to His providence, He sends us miracles, sometimes dramatic, to give our tired faith a turbo boost. The history of the Church is full of Eucharistic miracles.  Recorded miracles include hosts that survived fires, hosts that started to bleed during Mass, hosts that lost their appearance of bread and transformed into flesh. But some of the most remarkable signs God has given us regarding the Eucharist has to do with Holy Communion.

Through the centuries, there have been many saints, both men and women, who have lived for entire periods of their lives just on the Eucharist. They took no food or drink, but only received Holy Communion every day. St. Catherine of Siena was one of these, and so was Blessed Alexandrina da Costa, from Portugal. But one of the most amazing cases was St. Nicholas of Flue, who lived in Switzerland during the 1400s. He lived as a hermit and for 19  years during  that time, ate or drank absolutely nothing except daily Communion. Even when he tried to eat normal food he simply couldn't keep it down.

Our Lord Himself explained to Blessed Alexandrina why He gives this grace to some of His saints: "You are living by the Eucharist alone," He told her, "because I want to prove to the world the power of the Eucharist and the power of My life in souls." Christ is the fullness of life and meaning that we all hunger for, and the Eucharist is Christ's real presence. This is what our faith teaches us. As Pope Benedict XVI put it:

"In the sacrament of the altar, the Lord meets us, men and women created in God's image and likeness, and becomes our companion along the way. In this sacrament, the Lord truly becomes food for us, to satisfy our hunger for truth and freedom. Since only the truth can make us free, Christ becomes for us the food of truth."  (Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, #2)

We all believe in the Eucharist.  We have all been given the gift of faith, and the Father has drawn us to Jesus Christ and to the Blessed Sacrament. But it's always helpful to polish that faith up.

If someone took a video of us on a Sunday morning, would that video have sufficient evidence for a court of law to conclude that we truly believe in the Eucharist? When we enter and leave the Church we all genuflect and make the Sign of the Cross, because we are in the presence of the Eucharistic Lord reserved in the Tabernacle. But are our genuflection and Sign of the Cross sincere and meaningful, or just Catholic quickies? 

During the Eucharistic prayer, which happens at Mass between the bringing up of the gifts and the Our Father, are we making a decent effort to focus our attention on the words? Their beauty and meaning can enhance how we receive Communion, if we let them. How about the way we approach Holy Communion and what we do after we return to our seats? If someone were to watch a video of that, would they be able to tell that we truly, deeply believe in Jesus present in the Eucharist as our nourishment and salvation? Then, during the week, how often do we make an effort to come and visit Jesus in the Tabernacle, just to thank Him for His blessings, and to talk to Him about our needs, concerns, and loved ones? He is always here, eagerly waiting for us.

Today, let us activate our faith. Let us renew our belief in the Holy Eucharist. Let us ever adore, revere, and be grateful for this sacrament of God’s love and care for us.



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