REFLECTION FOR TODAY
April 23, 2021
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
“Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh 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. For my Flesh is true food, and my Blood is true drink. Jn 6: 53-55
After teaching the crowd at Capernaum that his word of truth is the bread of life, Jesus now focuses on his own flesh and blood as the source of life. The crowd found it difficult to grasp His assertion that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood, a difficulty that has persisted among believers and non-believers alike.
Jesus in our gospel reference today tells us that failure to “eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood” results in death. Death is the loss of life, and the Eucharist is the source of life. Jesus says that if you fail to eat His Flesh and drink His Blood, “you do not have life within you.”
The whole mystery of the incarnation points toward the gift of the Eucharist and finds its completion in it. The Eucharist makes sense only through faith in Christ, the living bread come down from heaven to give life to the world. By eating the living bread, communicants receive more abundantly the life which Jesus offers.
Nourishment by the flesh and blood of Jesus makes possible the most perfect union with Him. That is why the flesh and blood confer eternal life, manifesting the dual nature in Him. Only those who long for union with Jesus will learn fully what it is to eat the body and drink the blood of Jesus.
It is more than merely believing and accepting the death of Christ as effecting the forgiveness of sins. It means becoming more and more united to Him by the Holy Spirit who dwells in both Jesus and us, so that we become like Him in body, mind and spirit.
This bold teaching of Jesus on the Eucharist should cause us to stop and examine our approach to the Most Holy Eucharist. Sometimes we can fall into the trap of thinking that going to Mass and receiving Communion is something we do as a “favor” to our Lord. But in truth, it’s God’s most profound favor to us, because the Eucharist is the gateway to eternal life. And without it, we have no life within us. Our spirits die because we lose the presence of God.
Looking at the negative effect of not receiving the Most Holy Eucharist can be very useful. Sometimes we need to consider the consequences of our actions as a way of motivating us to greater fidelity. For that reason, considering the fact that failure to eat the Flesh of the Son of God results in death should be very motivating. It should fill us with a holy fear of the loss of the life-giving presence of God within us. This “holy fear” is a true gift from God and is, in fact, one of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Reflect, today, upon your interior and exterior attitude toward the Most Holy Eucharist. Do you see your participation in the Holy Mass more as a favor you offer to our Lord? Or do you see it as it is: the life-giving source of eternal life? Reflect upon how important this precious gift truly is and recommit yourself to a faithful and devout participation in this most holy Gift.
My Eucharistic Lord, Your Flesh and Blood are truly the source of eternal life for all who receive You in faith. I thank You, dear Lord, for this most precious Gift of the Most Holy Eucharist, and I pray that I will be filled with a deep hunger and thirst for You always. Jesus, I trust in You.