The gifts (lessons) Jesus brought to us, are often told in parables. In my essay Discipleship I shared verse from the book of Mark, which is where Jesus explains He taught with parables.
Jesus did not teach in literal terms in order to help the peoples of that time learn, He taught in a manner that all listening could understand, despite where they fall upon a learning curve. It is so important to understand the written word, is taught by Jesus, in parables.
Recent mornings reading of the Gospel:
Gospel of St. John 6:52-59
The Jews started arguing with one another: ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ they said.
‘I tell you most solemnly,
if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you will not have life in you.
Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood
has eternal life,
and I shall raise him up on the last day.
For my flesh is real food
and my blood is real drink.
He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood
lives in me
and I live in him.
As I, who am sent by the living Father,
myself draw life from the Father,
so whoever eats me will draw life from me.
This is the bread come down from heaven;
not like the bread our ancestors ate:
they are dead,
but anyone who eats this bread will live forever.’
He taught this doctrine at Capernaum, in the synagogue.
Reading the footnotes on these readings on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, they tell us “Spirit flesh: probably not a reference to the Eucharistic body of Jesus but to the supernatural and the natural, as in. Spirit and life: all Jesus said about the bread of life is the revelation of the Spirit.”
There is actually quite a bit to be found on the history and celebration of the Eucharist – in the Roman Catholic Church. There was a day when it was a very simple (but deep) reminder of the love of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and God the Father.
The Church has changed teachings on this as well as other sacraments over the years. I have enjoyed reading some of the things various Saints have said about the Holy Eucharist and do plan on reading more about this sacrament.
Transubstantiation was not taught until the Council of Trent in 1551 and so it has been taught for the past 500 years or so. Other things have evolved with the Eucharist that when reading does show the doctrine has been changed over the years, more recently to allow for Eucharistic ministers, bread without wine, I was taught not to chew the host, now people do, etc.
There are obvious reasons for people questioning teachings, from what I read and hear.
There really is a lot of history in this sacrament, teaching show clearly there was a day when there was universal church that taught “do this in memory of me”, no transubstantiation taking place, formalities in the simplest of sense – per St. Paul:
1 Corinthians 11:23-26 “For this is what I received from the Lord, and in turn passed on to you: that on the same night that he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread, and thanked God for it and broke it, and he said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this as a memorial of me.’ In the same way he took the cup after supper, and said, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Whenever you drink it, do this as a memorial of me.’ Until the Lord comes, therefore, every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming his death, So to sum up, my dear brothers, when you meet for the Meal, wait for one another”. (Universalis)
St. Mathew 26:26 The Lord’s Supper. 26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this is my body.” 27Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, 28l for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins. 29* I tell you, from now on I shall not drink this fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it with you new in the kingdom of my Father.” 30 Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. (usccb)
What this all points back to is our lord, Jesus Christ. He is to be a true focal point in our lives, as part of the Holy Trinity. What is He telling us in this reading today?
Jesus was sent by our Lord, God the Father to bring us to Him. We are not reading about literally drinking His blood or eating of his body in this text. He is teaching us; -cling to my words and my actions and I will lead you to Our Father-. Our Lord God is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, in Him we shall live forever. Jesus perhaps refers to coming down from Heaven because we look up to our Lord, God.
Jesus was God’s gift to us, to teach us how to live lives of love and peace with one another through God our Father who gifts us with all. We are all, each and every one of us part of this – together. Our lives are not about dying in body, but dying in spirit to be reborn to a new way of life, living, giving, sharing – loving. In God.
I will encourage you once again to read your bible thoughtfully, prayerfully. Listen. There is much to be learned about life and love within those pages. There is much to be learned about life and love through our prayer life too.
What can you do today, that will bring heaven into your midst? Love. Love as Jesus has taught us, love with heart mind and soul. Everyone.