St Francis Q&A

Friday, April 25, 2008

"Remains in me"

Eucharistic Adoration tonight, 7-8 pm, SAA Church. All who wish to adore Jesus in the Eucharist are invited!!
An anonymous blogger recently posted the following comment about the Eucharist:

“It's one thing to have an intellectual belief that Jesus meant it in the literal sense, but another to truly experience it. And, why do so many Christian religions still interpret it figuratively?”

I think that I’ve told the story before, but, if not, I’ll repeat it. I was speaking to a young woman years ago who was in a Lutheran Bible college. She was very well-versed in Sacred Scripture and I learned much from her. I asked her about John 6 with great interest. She paused, and thought aloud, ‘John 6, John 6…I’m sorry, what is John 6 about?” I reminded her that it was the Bread of Life discourse – when Jesus taught about the Eucharist. After going through that exquisite chapter together, she said with some frustration, “I’ve never studied that chapter!” She went to her pastor to find out why they skipped over that one; he, of course, asked her who she had been talking to!

Starting with the Reformation about 500 years ago, Protestants have interpreted John 6 and the teaching on the Eucharist as being symbolic only. One of the main reformers, Martin Luther, changed Christ’s words from “this is my body” to “this symbolizes my body” when he established the King James Version of the Bible. Even though there are 30,000 different Protestant denominations, they all continue the teaching of the reformers – that the bread and wine are symbols only of the Body and Blood of Christ. So, tradition would be one answer to your question, Anon. It is a tradition that continues to “protest” against the Tradition of the Church that was instituted by Christ. As the following reflection by Fr. Wells (see post from 10/9/07) indicates, it is a tradition that is the result of sin.

“First of all, it was the prayer of Jesus that, ‘they be one, as you Father, are in me and I am in you.’ Unity is intended by God to be one of the distinctive marks of the Church. The summit, the source, and the principle sign of that unity is the Eucharist. Now, thank God, we have discovered in recent decades how much we have in common with other Christians, especially when compared with those who have no faith. We can, and should, pray and study together; we should engage in common works of Christian charity and we should build each other up in our attempts to love and serve the Lord. However, the rediscovery of how much we have in common does not erase the divisions that exist within the body of those who call themselves Christian. And we must not forget that our disunity is the result of sin – and sin always has painful consequences.”

Finally, here are some beautiful insights about the Eucharist from another anonymous blogger:

I’m not real insightful when it comes to scripture readings so I went on line to see what I could find on The Bread of Life Discourse. As I expected, there were numerous web sites with information, some more helpful than others. One particular article ended with a prayer that caught my attention ( It was a long, deep prayer by Teilhard de Chardin and I had to read it more than once.

Teilhard de Chardin’s prayer addresses our thoughts before approaching the altar for communion. It is with the hope of: “…discernment of the infinite perspectives hidden beneath the smallness and closeness of the host within which you are concealed. Already I have accustomed myself to recognize beneath the inertness of the morsel of bread a consuming power which, as the greatest doctors of your Church have said, far from being absorbed into me, absorbs me into itself.”

The last four words are what made me stop, think and realize that I totally missed the - “remains in me” part of (John 6: 56). “Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood remains in me and I in him.” I realized I have been approaching communion with the “I in him” perspective; i.e. with consumption of the host, Jesus becomes part of me. I do believe this to be true, but it is what I should be thinking of and being thankful for as I walk away from communion.

When I approach the altar for communion, I should be thinking of whether or not I have given to Jesus, contemplating my worthiness of being part of Him of remaining in Him. As the prayer points out in its’ last sentence, “In the host, Lord Jesus, you offer me my life.” In order to receive more, I must first offer back my life to the host. Then I will be living, “Through Him, in Him and with Him…”


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