What does it mean to say, I have life?
When Paul attempts to explain the significance of the Body and Blood of Christ to Christian worshipers in Corinth, he begins by drawing on lessons that they already know. Through their experience of Passover, the Corinthians know how central bread and wine are to the seder meal: Jews bless both the bread and the cup before they partake of this communal repast. Likewise, Paul suggests, Eucharist is a sacred meal that joins Christians together in prayer – it is a part of our communal journey, this participation in the body and blood of Christ. The Body of Jesus feed us; the Cup is a symbol of our salvation and of God’s blessing on us. It is God’s way of taking care of us, just as he did for the people of Israel as they survived for forty years in the desert on the way to the Promised Land: Do not forget the Lord, your God,… who brought forth water for you from the flinty rock, and fed you in the desert with manna… The proof of their desire for renewed relationship with God lies in their praise and worship: Glorify the Lord, O Jerusalem, Psalm 147 proclaims. And, just as God fed the Israelites in Deuteronomy, he continued to feed the people of Corinth, as he continues to feed us, today.
But our cooperation, like theirs, is necessary. The Israelites were tested by affliction and so learned to say yes, to prove that they were worthy to be a part of God’s plan, to be in right relationship with God as they entered the Promised Land. We, too, seek a Promised Land: eternal life, with Jesus, in heaven. In John’s Gospel this week, Jesus says, in essence, I have given myself for you. Now it’s up to you to respond, to say yes! If we participate in the Body of Christ, if we, though many, are one body, we will be transformed... if, that is, we come together as a community at Mass, praying together, participating in something larger than ourselves, assembling to hear God’s Word, and to receive Jesus’s Body and Blood – thus receiving life.
The one who feeds on me will have life because of me, Jesus says.
Would you like to have life?
Then partake of the cup of blessing, and the bread we break….
Join us at Our Lady of Mount Carmel for Eucharist!
This post is based on Fr. Pat's Scripture class.