Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Lord, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:32-36 RSV-2CE)
The transformative power of Christ in the sacraments, particularly in the eucharist, never ceases to amaze me. Here, we enter into the life of Christ, his suffering and death, his life and resurrection. We die with Him, and we raise with Him. Our lives are bound up in His, and we are wholly changed as a result.
Not only are we actually changed, but the world around us is transformed, offered for the gift of God’s grace.
In her essay, “The Prayer of the Church,” Saint Edith Stein conveys with beauty just how the Lord’s Supper brings all things into union with Christ, making all things new. She writes:
Blessing and distributing bread and wine were part of the Passover rite. But here both receive an entirely new meaning. This is where the life of the church begins. Only at Pentecost will it appear publicly as a Spirit-filled and visible community. But here at the Passover meal the seeds of the vineyard are planted that make the outpouring of the Spirit possible. In the mouth of Christ, the old blessings become life-giving words. The fruits of the earth become his body and blood, filled with his life. Visible creation, which he entered when he became a human being, is now united with him in a new, mysterious way. The things that serve to sustain human life are fundamentally transformed, and the people who partake of them in faith are transformed too, drawn into the unity of life with Christ and filled with his divine life. The Word’s life-giving power is bound to the sacrifice. (8)
The Son of God became incarnate for us that He would redeem humanity and the whole world. He became flesh and blood for us; His Body and His Blood are our very life. The Passover meal points to Christ, who is the fulfillment of the sacrificial meal. It is as Jesus said: “my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world” (John 6:32-33 RSV-2CE). Jesus is that true bread which comes down from heaven from the Father, for He continues, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:26 RSV-2CE). He draws us to Himself and we are united to Him in whom we have true life. As the bread and the wine become His Body and Blood, all of creation is brought into His sacrifice, offered for His glory and for the life of the world! Truly, this is the work of God, the miracle He offers to sustain us every day of our lives here on earth; the miracle in which we partake as we are joined with Him at the feast of the Lamb, when we eat His Body and drink His Blood and become one with Him in the sacrifice.
In this feast, gifts are offered and received, and offered back for the glory of God. God calls us to true communion with Him through the incarnation of His Beloved Son. How are we to respond but with wonder and thanksgiving? Again and again, we are shown mercy and offered grace at the altar. Again and again, we behold the Son of the Living God and are offered True Life that we might go and sin no more, that we might live lives worthy of the abundant grace He offers us. Let us say “yes” with Mary as the Word of God comes to us and makes His home with us to bring us Home with Him. With Mary, let us bear Christ for the life of the world.
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