The Bread That Came Down From Heaven

Today is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, our celebration of the Eucharist and our public proclamation “that the sacrifice of Christ is for the salvation of the whole world.”  (John Paul II)

“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life…Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood is remains in me and I in him.”  What struck me when I prayed with these lines was the incredible intimacy of God’s presence.  In the Old Testament, God provides food for the people so they may live.  Now God is the food that gives us life; “the bread that I give is my flesh for the life of the world.”  And this is not food that gives temporary sustenance, but food that gives life eternal.   Even though we die, we shall live forever.

What I sat with this morning, not for the first time, is the reality that we carry Christ in us always.  What Henri Nouwen says in With Burning Hearts about the disciples eating of the bread of life is equally true for us: “When they eat the breat that he hands them, their lives are transformed into his life.  It is no longer they who live, but Jesus, the Christ, who lives in them.”  That is a reality that has implications both for how we treat our own body – the temple of the Lord – and for how we treat others.