Enlarging Our Hearts
May 6, 2022 (readings)
- Friday of the Third Week of Easter
- Janet Scanlan
The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his Flesh to eat?” 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. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from Heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.” These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
Opening Prayer: Lord, I come to you now in this time of prayer to ask for understanding. I want to experience your great love for me and to remember you gave your very life so that I might have life eternal. Lord, you love me more than life itself. Please enlarge my heart to receive your love.
Unless You Eat: The Jews began to quarrel. Jesus knew this concept was very difficult, virtually impossible, for them to wrap their minds around because not only was it philosophically challenging to first-century Jews, it was also utterly disgusting. Their laws were clear. They were forbidden to eat blood, for the blood is life, and they shall not eat the life with the meat (Deuteronomy 12:23). Yet, Jesus added the word “unless” and turned their hearts to the true purpose of living. St. Thomas Aquinas said that, although in all of the sacraments the power of Christ is present, in the Eucharist Christ himself is present. The centrality of the Eucharist is paramount, the hinge upon which our life and the life of the Church turn. What a great gift and profound mystery the Eucharist is. Seeing is not always believing. We must first exercise the great gift of our faith in order to see.
Living Presence: Jesus taught that God the Father is his very life. His own vital relationship with the Father flows out to his followers as we are nourished on him. Today, Christ’s living presence radiates life from every tabernacle in the world. His invitation to “remain” in him is essential to our spiritual well-being because he told us, “without me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5). We become partakers of the divine life by consuming Christ in the sacrament of Holy Communion. May we truly be the living presence of Christ to others in this world!
Fear of Dying: The people of Israel ate the manna in the wilderness yet still died. Jesus reminded his listeners of this to highlight the radical claim he was making about the Eucharist. This bread, which is his flesh, is “really, truly, and substantially” (CCC 1374) different. It is the bread of Heaven, and by his death and Resurrection, Christ united Heaven and Earth. He conquered death and has given us the opportunity to trust in him and thereby shed any fear of death. As the martyr, St. Ignatius of Antioch said, “Jesus’ Eucharistic love is ‘the medicine of immortality.’”
Closing Prayer: Lord, I know I can’t do life on my own and that I need you. Help me to receive the Eucharist worthily, to spend time with you in adoration, to grow in holiness and love so that I can serve you in others. Strengthen me with your grace and enlarge my heart to love and serve more perfectly.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace help me to remember that when I serve and love others, I am serving and loving you.
For Further Reflection: Read the Catechism of the Catholic Church 1382-1401 on the nature and benefits of Holy Communion.
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