Another beautiful day, though I am SO Sore today! exercized yesterday at the YMCA for the first time two years. But it’s a “good pain” I am told. It’s a pain in the A$$ (literally) to me.
My wife and I are having dinner with the formation director and priest from my Franciscan Fraternity tonight. I think my wife is a little apprehensive: she has never met them. She will figure out fast that these two great people are “down to earth” individual that don’t bite (usually).
It was a busy day in history:
† 73 A.D. – Masada, a Jewish fortress, falls to the Romans after several months of siege, ending the Jewish Revolt.
† 1879 – Bernadette Soubirous, French shepherd girl (b. 1844) read more below in my “Franciscan Saint of the Day” section.
† 1919 – Mohandas Gandhi organizes a day of “prayer and fasting” in response to the British slaughter of Indian protestors in the Amritsar Massacre.
† 1963 – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. pens his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail while incarcerated in Birmingham, Alabama for protesting against segregation.
Today’s reflection is about further discourse of the bread of life and Jesus’ teachings.
Quote or Joke of the Day:
Those of us who refuse to risk and grow get swallowed up by life. — Patty Hansen
The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “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. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.” These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. (NAB John 6:52-59)
Why, after witnessing the life and miracles of Jesus Christ did the Jews quarrel among themselves? Some were asking, “How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?” Many left in disappointed, and returned to their old lives, instead of consuming the body of Christ. The reason: they took the words on a literal level! They believed they had to actually eat the skin of Jesus: cannibalism.
This literal concept is revolting, even to me. But yet, we are eating the actual body and blood of the divine Christ at every Mass in the Catholic Church. This is not hypocritical in any way. To non-Catholics, it is hard to understand. The host and wine does not change physically, or even molecularly; yet both have changed “substantially” into the body and blood of our savior. Many non-believers, and even Protestants, don’t understand, nor believe in this concept of “transubstantiation.” How wrong they are, as I will hope to prove here.
Jesus said to them, “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.” Another “YO, LISTEN” moment for the people He is conversing with. He goes on and says, “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.” Notice that He did not say “eat a representation or simulation of my body.” He also did not say “reminder of my body…,” and so. Jesus said, “… eats my flesh and drinks my blood …!”
Jesus is further declaring that only through Him, can one obtain salvation. Only through the Jesus can we obtain the grace to overcome our sins, and the grace of eternal life in paradise with the Holy Family.
The verb used in these verses was not the classical Greek verb used of human eating, but that of animal eating: to “munch” and “gnaw.” This may be part of John’s emphasis on the reality of the flesh and blood of Jesus; but this same verb eventually became the ordinary verb in Greek meaning “eat.” I believe John’s reference is to the “Bread” of the Eucharistic celebration. Further proof is in the next verse; “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” The words eats is a plural. One may eat the “flesh” of Jesus multiple times. I love that as a Catholic, I can do as Jesus wanted: to come to Him daily, and bring Him in me and me in Him, daily. I can renew my love for Him, and dedicate myself to Him anew each day. The Franciscans call this daily conversion.
Saying “the living Father” refers to the living bread of the Eucharist. This little pad of dead flour becomes, through the graces of the Holy Spirit, the living body of Christ sent to give life to all who believe in and consumes it. It is the bread that came down from heaven in the form of Jesus Christ, and unlike our ancestors who ate the bread of life, “manna,” in the desert, and still died; whoever eats His “bread” at Mass will live forever.
The synagogue in Capernaum is mentioned for the simple fact that Jesus taught there during His active ministry. He taught there in His mortal life, and continues to teach in this place in His divine “post-resurrection” life. AND, he continues to teach in our Church’s and lives even today, and into the future!
“Jesus, I believe in the true body and blood of our Eucharist. You gave up your life for us, and continue to give us life through the Eucharist. I love you. Amen.”
Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO
Franciscan Saint of the Day: April 16 – Marie Bernarde Soubirous 1844-1879
Born at Lourdes, France, on January 7, the oldest child of miller Francis Soubirous and his wife, Louise, she was called Bernadette as a child, lived in abject poverty with her parents, was uneducated, and suffered from asthma. On February 11, 1858, while collecting firewood on the banks of the Gave River near Lourdes, she saw a vision of the Virgin Mary in a cave above the riverbank. Her report provoked skepticism, but her daily visions of the Lady drew great crowds of people. Despite great hostility on the part of the civil authorities, she persisted in her claims, and on February 25 caused a spring to flow where none had been before. On March 25, the vision told her it was the Immaculate Conception and directed her to build a chapel on the site. In 1866, she became a Sister of Notre Dame at Nevers, and she remained there until her death on April 16. She was a member of the Confraternity of the Cord of St. Francis. She was received into this pious society after she had become a religious sister. Lourdes soon became one of the great pilgrimage centers of modern Christianity, attracting millions of visitors. Miracles were reported at the shrine and in the waters of the spring, and after painstaking investigation the apparitions were ecclesiastically approved. Bernadette was canonized in 1933 by Pope Pius XI.
From Dictionary of Saints by John Delaney
(From http://www.franciscan-sfo.org website)
Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #16:
Let them esteem work both as a gift and as a sharing in the creation, redemption, and service of the human community.