The Bread of Life

06-19-2022Weekly ReflectionFr. James Aboyi, VC

Growing up, one of the traditions I found very interesting in the Catholic Church, which I believe is true for most converts to the Church, is the use of different symbols to represent Christ, the Church, and the Eucharist. Symbols such as grapes, wheat, fish, Chi Rho, etc., may be found mostly on stained glass windows, vestments, and sacred vessels. One of the oldest symbols for Jesus Christ in Christian art is the pelican. It may not be a pretty bird, but it’s known as a symbol of self-sacrifice. Pelicans feed on fish but when a mother pelican cannot find fish to feed her broods, it bites deep into its own flesh and feeds its brood with her blood until the next food can be found. This is precisely what Christ does for us. Jesus did not wait for an emergency like the pelican. Rather, He gives Himself to us every day in the Eucharist. Jesus promised He would not leave us orphans (John 14:18). He has kept His word by giving himself to us as the Bread of Life.

As we celebrate the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, we are invited to reflect on our personal belief, attitude, and conviction about the real presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Receiving the Eucharist unworthily and taking the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist for granted is dangerous. As St. Paul warns: “Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself” (1 Cor 11:27- 29). One resource that may help us deepen our appreciation for the Eucharist is the recent Pastoral Letter from Bishop Thomas Olmsted “Veneremur Cernui – Down in Adoration Falling”. I encourage you to find time and read it to deepen your understanding and appreciation of the Eucharist.

Because we usually receive the Eucharist each time we go to Mass, we may tend to fall into the habit of receiving it routinely. As a result, we may lose our appreciation of it. Each time we walk down the aisle to receive the Eucharist during Mass, let us remember it is like going up to sign an agreement. When the minister says, “The Body of Christ, the Blood of Christ” we reaffirm our covenant with the Lord when we respond, “Amen.’’ By saying, “Amen” while receiving the Eucharist, we are affirming:

“I agree that Jesus is truly present, Body and Blood in the Eucharist.” “I believe all that the Catholic Church holds and teaches as the visible body of Christ on earth.” “I agree that by receiving Jesus into my body, His body is transforming my life and uniting me to Him.”

I pray we feel the real presence of the Lord in our personal lives and in our community.

Fr. James