The Importance of the Eucharist
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.
When I consider those who value taking the bible literally in every instance as a faith statement, and then think about how many disregard this section of John 6, I find it curious. There is an importance to the Eucharist that cannot be easily dismissed. Why?
First is the clarity that the gospel verses quoted at the beginning seem to suggest. “Unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you do not have life within you.” This seems pretty clear. Moreover, “For my Flesh is true food, and my Blood is true drink.” We know that many left after hearing these words.
So, it seems that Jesus means what he says. And for 1500 years this was pretty universally accepted in the Church. There was an importance to the Eucharist. So much did the Catholic Church value this before the Reformation, that rather than end the practice of communion because people had stopped going due to a feeling of unworthiness, that the Church mandated what has been called the Easter duty, namely to go to confession and receive the Eucharist at least once during the Easter season.
We live in a time now where the weekly celebration of the Eucharist is less and less seen by Catholics as a necessary part of being active in the faith. So many other things seem to have become more important at least some of the time for families and others. So we have to ask, “Is it only those who interpret the bible literally who are missing the mark?” What about those of us who are Catholics, who go to Mass often? Do we understand the importance of Jesus’ words?
The challenge, it seems to me, is the more and more pervasive belief that anything of value is determined solely by what I get out of it. I enjoy seeing my kids play soccer, and I get more out of that experience, than sitting in Church hearing a bad homily. I work really hard all week I need to sleep in on Sundays. And so forth. But there is an importance to the words of Jesus.
But if we take Jesus at face value, that in receiving His Body and Blood in the Eucharist is the only way we have true spiritual life, then we should not easily cast aside our obligation to go to Mass each Sunday. Hear this again: “Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood remains in me and I in him.”
We live in a world that is quite uncertain and downright scary. Among other things, we see the impact of this in the rise of anxiety and depression. Why wouldn’t we want to remain in Jesus? Why wouldn’t we consider the importance of Jesus’ words to us? Why wouldn’t we wish to remain in Jesus and have Jesus in us? There is obviously an importance Jesus says what he does.
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