Friday of the Third Week of Easter
May 1, 2009
Today's Memorial: St. Joseph the Worker
Download for sharing: "Your Work Is Awesome!"
Ps 117:1bc-2 (with Mark 16:15)
A more powerful experience of the Eucharist
In reflecting on what it means to eat the flesh of Jesus and drink his blood, consider this: Are WE not also his Body — his Flesh and Blood — for the world today?
Today's Gospel reading contains the Great Eucharistic Command. However, we must not look at this only from the perspective of "what's in it for me?", not if we want to be followers of Christ who said, "Those who feed on me will have life because of me." What kind of life? What's the difference between having HIS life and the one we were born with, the flesh and blood existence of physical bodies that eventually loses its life? The answer lies in who benefits: us or others.
Jesus gives us his body and blood during every Mass so that we benefit by consuming him, which unites us to him (to his love, his life, his ministry, etc.), which then should benefit others.
We also consume him outside the Mass. We draw him into us during our prayers, our interactions with others, and even by appreciating the beauty of nature. He feeds us through Christian songs and other inspiring music. He quenches our thirst for spiritual growth.
As we open ourselves to receive the presence of Jesus outside the Mass, we prepare ourselves more fully to receive what he gives us inside the Mass. Because the Eucharist is our divine Lord giving himself to us completely, in his full divinity and physical humanity, powerfully and miraculously, we leave church significantly changed — or rather, that's the plan; for it to really happen, we have to cooperate with God's plan by being fully involved in the Mass.
Consuming Jesus is supposed to transform us into his likeness. We become what we receive; we become the Eucharist, which means we're ready for others to consume us, or to put it more accurately, we give them opportunities to be nourished by the True Presence of Jesus within us.
When we give love to others, they receive God's love, and when they don't return our love in equal measure, they deplete us: We're being consumed! The same Eucharistic life happens when we give our time and skills and talents but are not paid or rewarded.
The more we're depleted and consumed by others, the more we need to consume Jesus. I can tell you from experience that the busier I am, the more I need to pray and attend daily Mass.
And remember this, which is absolutely essential: By ourselves, we are not the body and blood of Christ. The body has many parts. If you feel drained and depleted, crushed by stresses and worn down, it's because you haven't allowed Jesus to fill you with all of his body and blood, which includes the people he has given you within the Church community, for they are his hands, his smile, his embrace, and his encouragement that strengthens us and renews us.
© 2009 by Terry A. Modica; All Rights Reserved.
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