“The happiness you are seeking, the happiness you have a right to enjoy has a name and a face: it is Jesus of Nazareth, hidden in the Eucharist.” ~ Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
With the proclamation of today’s Gospel (John 6:1-15) we begin an eight day voyage into the 6th Chapter of John, which contains what is oftentimes referred to as the Bread of Life Discourse. Chapter 6 is the longest chapter in John’s Gospel, which unlike the other three Gospels does not include an account of the Last Supper. We begin today with the multiplication of the fishes and loaves https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Hope-You-Like-Leftovers, the only miracle story mentioned in each of the four Gospels.
This feeding of the 5,000 was a foreshadowing of the Holy Eucharist, this precious Sacrament which Saint Thomas Aquinas so often called the “food for the journey.“ As Bishop Robert Barron points out in his Morning Meditation “Baptism defines us, making us sons and daughters of God; Confirmation confirms and deepens this identity; Marriage and Holy Orders seal us in our life’s vocation. These are sacraments offered once at key moments in one’s life. Then there is the Eucharist, which is daily food, nourishment to get us through the day-to-day.” In the spiritual life, one which we are all called to vibrantly live by virtue of our Baptism, we must eat and drink or we will not have the strength.
Noted Catholic Radio Personality and founder of Acts XXIX Father John Riccardo, in a very interesting analogy, likens the Holy Eucharist to the use of steroids. A steroid is an injection that an athlete takes which allows the body to tear down and build up faster so that they can in turn get stronger faster. They are of course illegal because they give the injectee an unfair advantage in competition . The Eucharist is something of a divine steroid, providing the soul with the supernatural strength to navigate a broken and sinful world in a way that allows them to nonetheless thrive and prosper. Those who receive the Eucharist regularly have an edge in the game of life if you will, but not over others mind you. Instead it simply allows one to be better than they would be on their own. And unlike the extremely dangerous and undesirable repercussions of injecting steroids into your body, the “side effects” of the Holy Eucharist might include, but are not limited to, an increase in wisdom, fortitude, understanding, patience, charity and humility.
As we delve deeper into this 6th Chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus will go so far as to say “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” (John 6:53). Between the pandemic and plummeting Holy Mass attendance, which was a percolating and very troublesome reality long before the pandemic, it’s obvious that we have a lot of Spiritual Zombies in our midst https://discover.hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Life-Among-the-Lifeless-Now-THATS-Scary.
In 2 Peter 1:4, a very popular and oft-recited Scripture verse, Saint Peter explains that “Because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world's corruption caused by human desires.” Yes, the gift of the Eucharist allows us to share in Christ’s divine nature. In this Sacrament we have everything we need to live the life that God calls us to live.
I leave you with the words and advice of the great Saint Padre Pio, who urged those in his midst to "Always remain close to the Catholic Church, because it alone can give you true peace, since it alone possesses Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, the true Prince of Peace."