Dear friends on the journey,
I wonder if the people around Jesus thought he was a lunatic, especially in today’s gospel story. How scandalous, ridiculous and confusing Jesus’ command to eat his flesh and drink his blood must have been to his fellow Jewish people. Of course, we know he doesn’t mean literally. So what does he mean exactly?
There’s nothing better than being in the presence of a loved one or friend. But sometimes their physical presence is not enough when they’re on the phone or watching TV and you’re trying to talk or connect. They are right next to you, yet their mind is elsewhere. Think about the opposite. That special person could be a thousand miles away yet so attentive and present to you when you talk on the phone or FaceTime. The absence makes you appreciate the time you have even more. In either situation we just want to be present to one another, sharing and connecting.
While Jesus is not physically present to us today, he is so very present to us in all we do. If we choose to recognize him, we can find Jesus in people, events, and little moments of our lives. The liturgy is a special place of encounter with Jesus. He is all over our banquet hall: in the congregation, the presider, the Word and most especially the Eucharist. This is what Jesus means in the gospel today.
When Jesus said to eat his body and drink his flesh, he meant that through the bread and wine we would encounter his presence, not his physical presence but his true Presence. When we receive the bread and wine, we are in communion with Jesus, the most fulfilling complete communion we can experience. We are taking on his very being, his spirit. We are taking on Christ. What a joyous miracle this is!
This miracle comes with responsibility though. If we are in total communion with Jesus, we are taking him with us when we leave. We are now his presence in the world. That reality should give us pause. It should influence our actions, our words, our way of thinking, our decision making, and the way we view and treat certain groups of people.
Imagine if we were more present to those around us. I really think our families, communities, schools, work places, country and world would experience more understanding, acceptance, love and peace.
Will Jesus’ presence in you change the way you are present to your parents, spouse, kids, friends and neighbors?
Faith Life Minister