Eucharist: the vital link with Jesus and neighbor
Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, Year A (John 6:51-58)
Father’s Day, June 18, 2017
By Fr. Sal Putzu, SDB
THE Israelites always treasured the remembrance of the daily manna and the water from the rock enjoyed by their ancestors during their long wandering in the desert. They saw in the manna and the water eloquent signs of the Lord’s caring love for them.
But the manna and the water in the desert were only symbols of a much more precious food and drink, which Jesus would offer to his disciples: his body and his blood, commonly referred to as “the Eucharist.” This is the wondrous means through which Jesus shows all the depth of his love for us, a means through which he satisfies the many yearnings of our hearts.
We do experience several forms of hunger and thirst. In addition to our physical need for food and drink, we hunger and thirst for acceptance, appreciation, forgiveness, trust, sharing, love . . . Indeed, “not on bread alone does man live.”
These affective and spiritual needs can be satisfied by other human beings only to a limited extent. Only God can satisfy them fully. And He will surely do this in the life to come. But He starts doing this already in this life, though in a “sacramental” manner, i.e., through “sacred signs” which communicate the spiritual gift they signify.
Of these signs, the Eucharist is the most revelatory and effective, for it manifests and actualizes Christ’s total gift of self to each believer and to the whole community.
This gift was foreshadowed by the miraculous multiplication of bread and fish (see Jn 6:3-13); it was formally established by Jesus at the Last Supper (see Mk 14:22-24 and parallels), and has been treasured and celebrated by the Church ever since.
In this celebration/re-enactment of what Jesus did “on the night when he was betrayed” (1 Cor 11:23), our deepest forms of hunger and thirst for love, sharing, and communion with God and others are satisfied to the highest degree possible on earth. At the same time, the Eucharist is also a foretaste of that perfect communion with God and neighbor which will be a feature of the everlasting happiness prepared for us in heaven by our loving Lord.