"The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, 'How can this man give us his flesh to eat?'" From the beginning, the Eucharist has been a source of controversy. Some people have always found the teaching difficult to accept. But as Catholics, the Blessed Sacrament is at the heart of our worship and our spirituality; we go to Mass to share in the holy sacrifice of Jesus' body and blood, and we receive spiritual nourishment from partaking of this heavenly food. As Jesus himself tells us in today's Gospel, "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him."
From this passage it is clear that Jesus intended the Eucharist to be a tremendous gift for us, for "whoever eats this bread will live forever." This, of course, is because the bread is Christ's "flesh for the life of the world." In other words, just as he gave his body on the cross to save us from our sins, so too this same flesh is given for us at every Mass to strengthen our weakness and unite us more deeply to our Savior.
Receiving Communion isn't like taking a magic pill, however. We must beware of reducing this sacrament to an empty ritual or a foolproof guarantee of heaven. No, it is quite possible to receive Communion unworthily and reject its spiritual efficacy. Just like the benefits of a healthy meal can be undone by a habit of binging on junk food, so too we can prevent holy Communion from having its full benefits when we crowd our souls with vices and sins. If on the other hand, we wish to let this sacrament of divine grace flourish, we should receive it with a sincere spirit of gratitude and reverence, praying that we may be made worthy to receive such a gift.
"God so loved the world that he gave his only Son." We are used to this profound idea, so used to it that we often glaze over the incredible reality: God the Father has a Son who became man and dwelt among us! Too often we blithely make the sign of the cross in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, without realizing what a radical theology we are announcing.READ MORE
“Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, 'Peace be with you.'" Then, he said it again. And then, "he breathed on them and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.'" Jesus brings peace, and he brings the Holy Spirit. Peace, in fact, is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Today, on this feast of Pentecost, we remember the dramatic outpouring of the Holy Spirit that came upon those first apostles and the peace that came along with it. But we do more than remember. We also celebrate the presence of this same Spirit in our midst.READ MORE