Taste and see the goodness of the Lord!
The reflections that we’ve had throughout these weeks, guided by the Sunday Readings, have allowed us to contemplate on this mystery of love, which is the gift that Jesus makes out of himself in the Eucharist. He is the good shepherd who provides for his flock the generous God who always sees to our needs and never lets him be outdone in generosity, the Lord who feeds and satisfies the deepest desire of the human heart. The words of the responsorial psalm this 20th Sunday in ordinary time spring readily from a heart that has contemplated on this goodness and has seen the fruits of divine grace: Taste and see the goodness of the Lord!
It is in the mystery and sacrament of the most holy Eucharist that the Lord gives himself out to us, feeding us not with mere earthly food, but rather with the bread that is his flesh and quenching our deepest thirst with the wine which is his blood. Jesus is our food. What ordinary bread and drink does to the organism, the miracle of Jesus’ own self-giving makes possible in the soul: it nourishes, strengthens, and preserves the divine life given to those who abide in his love, making the Christian capable of doing good, leading a life of a free child of God.
The Sunday readings lead us to consider the importance of Holy Communion in the life of the Christian. Christ is the only one who can give the fullness of life that he himself receives from the Father; for us to receive that life from him, we need to be united with his very life, which was offered totally on the cross. Holy Communion allows us to do exactly what the term says: to be in communion, to be one with the sacrificed life of the Redeemer, to be one and the same thing with him. We may not be crucified with Jesus on the cross so as to share his life and to enter into his glory, but in eating his flesh and in drinking his blood, we receive that very same life into ourselves. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is also a banquet—the Eucharistic Banquet—where Jesus is not merely the one who invites us to eat; he himself is the food, given for the life of the world. No other food can give this life, only Jesus who is our Eucharist.
“Unless you do not eat 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”.
These words of our Lord that we hear in the Gospel for today would allow us to see why Sunday Mass is very important. This is why Holy Communion is very essential in our lives as Christians. This is the reason why all of the spiritual means the Church gives to us as a preparation for this meeting (first among all, the Sacrament of Penance) is very important. Without the divine life, the very life of Jesus Christ, flowing within us, it is impossible to be Christian and to live a life that is really pleasing to God.
In receiving the Lord worthily in his entirety in Holy Communion—where is present body and blood, soul and divinity—we allow God to re-create his life within us. Our catholic faith teaches us that there are chiefly four effects of this this wonderful union between God and man: (1) it increases our union with Christ and his Church; (2) it preserves and renews the life of grace received at Baptism and confirmation, and lets us grow in the love of our neighbor; (3)it strengthens us in charity and finally (4) it wipes away venial sins and preserves us from mortal sin in the future (cfr. Compendium of the Catechism of theCatholic Church, n. 292).
When we eat his body, it is not that Christ becomes part of us, just like what happens with ordinary food when it gets assimilated into our organism. The Eucharist is no mere food. When we receive the bread of life in communion, we get more assimilated to Christ, and to the Body of Christ, which is the Church. Since he whom we receive is the author of life himself, we are introduced more into that divine life, something that we have already received in Baptism, and strengthened in Confirmation. It makes us stronger in the struggle to better ourselves, in weeding out our defects, and so Holy Communion is an important means to holiness. In a thanksgiving prayer after Mass that he composed, St. Thomas Aquinas expresses this beautifully when he asks the Lord that this communion “may cancel my faults, destroy concupiscence and carnal passion…may it be a firm defense against the snares of all my enemies, both visible and invisible, the complete calming of my impulses, both of flesh and of the spirit”.
Jesus who waits for us daily in the Eucharist, Jesus whom we receive in Holy Communion has the power to change us, transforming our lives into the pattern of his own divine life. Perhaps, despite of the thousands of communions that we’ve made during our lifetime, we may be tempted to think that this hasn’t been true in our own life. I still have the same defects, the same imperfections as before, and there seems to be no improvement whatsoever, each of us might say. But come to consider what if we haven’t been receiving all throughout this time, worthily as we could possibly be; perhaps we could’ve been even worse.
The spiritual considerations that we’ve made should also allow us to resolve to make our communions as worthy as possible. We couldn’t just afford to receive our Lord with hearts that are choked with the filth of our sins. We cannot receive him if we know that we are in the state of mortal sin. As such, we should not receive him without first seeking his mercy in the Sacrament of Penance.
May Mary our Mother, teach us how to receive her Eucharistic Son with all the care and love that we could muster in our hearts. AMEN.
|Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament.|