Bread of Life

BREAD OF LIFE
 this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. (john 6: 50)
The miracle of God’s physical presence to us at every Mass is the truest testament to Christ’s love for us and His desire for each of us to have a personal relationship with Him. Jesus Christ celebrated the first Mass with His disciples at the Last Supper, the night before He died. He commanded His disciples, “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). The celebration of the Mass then became the main form of worship in the early Church, as a reenactment of the Last Supper, as Christ had commanded. Each and every Mass since commemorates Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross through the Holy Eucharist. Because the Mass “re-presents” (makes present) the sacrifice on Calvary, Catholics all around the world join together to be made present in Christ’s timeless sacrifice for our sins. There is something fascinating about continuing to celebrate the same Mass—instituted by Christ and practiced by the early Church—with the whole community of Catholics around the world…and in heaven.

THE REAL PRESENCE

Why does the Catholic Church believe Christ is really present in the Eucharist?
The Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence is the belief that Jesus Christ is literally, not symbolically, present in the Holy Eucharist—body, blood, soul and divinity. Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist because Jesus tells us this is true in the Bible:

“I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh." The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ So Jesus said to them,

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” - John 6:48-56
Furthermore, the early Church Fathers either imply or directly state that the bread and wine offered in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper is really the body and blood of Jesus Christ. In other words, the doctrine of the Real Presence that Catholics believe today was believed by the earliest Christians 2,000 years ago!

This miracle of God’s physical presence to us at every Mass is the truest testament to Christ’s love for us and His desire for each of us to have a personal relationship with Him.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

THE WOMAN AT THE WELL

The scriptural story of the woman at the well in John’s Gospel is a superlative example of the healing ministry Jesus Christ offers to his wounded followers. If we look in terms of Christ as the “wounded healer” in this narrative, the salvific role of the Paschal Mystery is indeed revealed in Jesus’ interactions with the Samaritan woman.

Jesus offers the Samaritan woman the opportunity to partake of living water as part of the conversion and restoration process. In a similar manner, all Catholic believers can identify with the Woman at the Well as a co-companion in the journey from sin to new life in Baptism. We believers share the same wounded human condition as the Samaritan woman and it is Jesus’ ultimate wounding at Calvary that heals us with living water.

Jesus is the wounded healer offering redemption and healing to the woman at the well and to us. During this pivotal period in the history of the Catholic Church, the age of healing has a new meaning as Benedict XVI promotes harmony and therapeutic spiritual healing between all brothers and sisters of humanity.

Jesus offers the portrait of healer for all of us to emulate in our lives. His ability to engage the Samaritan woman without prejudice and judgment is a great moment of cathartic revelation that reminds all of us of the,”sacred call “to conversion is the touchstone for all religious and human actions.

The woman at the well is a great example of the duality of ministry the Church offers to those already incorporated through Baptism, and those outside the Church that seek a graced harmonious relationship in global society. What I always find significant about the Samaritan woman is her distinction as a Samaritan. Jesus could just have easily offered his advice and counsel to a Jewish woman.

However, he engages a member of the separated Tribes of Israel the opportunity to confess, convert and be healed through the element of water. On a uniquely modern basis, our Church today is presented with worldwide opportunities to bridge misunderstandings of theology and history between all faiths. Religious dialogue directed towards universal harmony is a responsibility of all Catholic peoples while respecting other religions freedom of beliefs and autonomy.

In the story of the Woman at the Well, Jesus makes a simple request of water from the woman. He does not politicize, or theologically dissect her marital, religious or political situation. Rather he asks for life sustaining water, universally needed by all living things for life. However, there is a ironic duality going on here as well…Jesus is asking for water and is giving the opportunity for eternal water to the Samaritan woman. Perhaps as a Catholic community of believers, we need to contemplate this mystery.

We are not only the recipients of salvation but are also the dispensers of salvation through faith and Baptism. Catholic communion has a dual responsibility to both nourish and share spiritual nourishment with the larger global society without conditions, just Gospel love of God and neighbor.

Jesus interaction with the woman at the well is not only an opportunity for Jesus to be the Physician-Healer but also the Divine Therapist through the diagnostic questioning of the woman’s marital situation. While from an exegetical perspective the “life giving water” is clearly a sign of Baptism, it is also a deeply rooted suggestion of therapeutic healing through grace.

As participants in “wounding” and being “wounded” Catholic believers metaphysically call all peoples to a live filled and marked by radical transformations. As Catholics, we offer to the entire world the opportunity to participate in the Paschal Mystery and partake of Living Waters. This call to global fellowship is the cornerstone of potential human understanding of the universal mysteries of faith and our ultimate desire for global unity and harmony.

The pursuit of Living waters is healing, therapeutic, and unifying. As Catholic global believers, we offer all peoples the message of love and unification through Christ Jesus. A prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours perhaps best concludes this reflection:
Father, form in us the likeness of Christ your Son and strengthen His love within us. Touch the hearts of all with your love. Send us as witnesses of Gospel joy to a world of fragile peace and broken promises. Touch the hearts of all with your love, so we may love one another.

1 comment:

Loknath said...

Praise the lord