Becoming the Eucharist
“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.”
Has anybody given any thought to the fact that in three months and a few days, we will arrive at Thanksgiving? About a week later, we’re in Advent and four weeks later, Christmas! Wow! I’m not ready to say Happy Thanksgiving but in a flash, it will be here.
The beginning of the first reading reminds me of the many Thanksgiving Dinners that I’ve celebrated with family and friends over so many years. Thanksgiving is more than about food: we come together as a family, we share our stories, we give thanks for all the gifts God has given us and we share food and drink. We eat like there’s no tomorrow. We stuff down so much food that, to borrow a line from the very funny comedian, Jim Gaffigan, part of what we eat is actually called “stuffing!”
When the Gospel of John was written down, the word “eat” used in Greek meant to “feed on” Jesus’ flesh and blood. It wasn’t meant to be a polite way of taking a little sliver of Jesus’ body, or a little bitty sip of his blood. No, the Greek term to “feed on” here means to literally gnaw at, to munch or crunch. I remember being told when I was a kid in grammar school that when I received the Host in Holy Communion, don’t bite down, don’t chew because this was the sacred body of Jesus and it would be disrespectful if we did such a thing to the Body of Christ. Jesus calls us to EAT his flesh and DRINK his blood so that we are not just nourished by his Body and Blood, we become his Body and Blood. We are united in his very flesh, only then can we share the Body and Blood of the Lord with others. Jesus calls us to become one with him as he is one with the Father who sent him.
What Jesus said made many people very angry, upset and in the end, violent toward him, so they killed him. People either loved Jesus totally, therefore lived his life or they hated him because of what he said.
Today, we are called to place our total lives, the best about ourselves and the dark side of ourselves and place it all on the altar with the bread and wine. We are called to be consecrated into the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus. We are called to become what we eat and to go out and share this great meal, to share ourselves with those who are the forgotten, those who don’t understand, with those who society hates. No less.
If we feed totally on the Lord, we will have life for all eternity because we become one with the Lord in all we say and do. May we commit ourselves today and every Sunday to become one with the Lord by offering up ourselves with him. May we become what we eat and drink at our Sunday Eucharistic celebration and share this feast with everyone we meet!
May our all-loving God bless you always!