O Sacrament most holy, * O Sacrament divine !
ACCORDING TO SAINT JOHN
CHAPTER 6 VERSES 54-57
54. Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say to you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you.
55. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day.
56. For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed.
57. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him.
The Eucharist is a mystery as well as a sacrament. Like the Trinity and the Incarnation, it is something that surpasses human understanding. We believe it, not because we comprehend it , but simply on God's word, just as we believe in the Trinity and the Incarnation. Our religion is called holy Faith, because it is based on faith in God's statements. In the Eucharist we have to trust absolutely to God's word. There is nothing in the Eucharist itself to help our understanding of it rather, everything to make it harder to comprehension. Jesus understands all this, and for that reason prepared His followers for absolute trust in Him.
The Eucharist is the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ. It was instituted at the Last Supper, when He changed the substance of the bread and wine into his body and blood, and gave Himself to the apostles as their First Holy Communion.
How it is that without any external change there is a change of the real interior substance of the bread into the body of Christ we do not know. Nor does God's want us to know. If he did, He would have told us. It is as if, before giving us the greatest thing in His possession, Himself, He demanded this act of perfect faith in Himself. Perfect faith it surely is, for there is nothing but His word for it. However Christ prepared His followers for this great confidence in Him, as we shall see.
His first miracle was to change water into wine by mere expression of His will. Afterwards He fed a great multitude of thousands of people with a few loaves. Taking bread into His hands, He blessed it, causing it to increase a thousand-fold before the very eyes of the people. After this miracle, they wished to make Him their king. Taking occasion of their great confidence in Him. He told them that He was going to give them bread of another kind, bread from heaven. When they asked for that bread, He said: "The bread I give is my flesh, for the life of the world."
When the people heard this statement they were amazed, and said to one another: "How can He give us His flesh to eat?" They understood Jesus literally. Had they misunderstood Him? No, for if they had, He would have rightly informed them. But when He saw their Astonishment , He repeated and emphasized what He had said "Amen, amen, I say unto you, except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink of His blood, you shall not have life in you. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed."
He held to His statement, although it caused many to turn away from Him. Even some of His disciples left Him. This made Jesus turn towards the apostles and say: "Will you too leave me?" Peter answered: "Lord, if we leave thee, to whom shall we go? Thou has the words of eternal life."
A few days later after Christ had raised Lazarus from the dead, on the day before His crucifixion, while seated with His apostles at the Last Supper, Jesus fulfilled His promise of giving to them His body and blood. Taking bread into His hands, He blessed it saying: "Take ye and eat, this Is my body." these words were His last will and testament. Continuning, He said: "Do this in commemoration of me."
Here was the act of consecration, the changing of bread into His body, and also the commission to the apostles to do the same, in memory of Him. That this was the way in which the apostle understood it is clear for their practice. St. Paul, speaking of the Eucharist says "The bread which we break is it not the partaking of the body of our Lord?' Now, if anyone knew the meaning of the words, it was the apostles. It is not likely that Christ allowed them to be deceived
For fear there may any question at all as to how they regarded the Eucharist, the Apostle furthermore adds: "He that eateth and drinketh unworthily eateth and drindeth judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord." If words have any meaning at all, these of Christ and the Apostle signify that the Eucharist is the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
Nothing can explain this wonderful mystery. However, it is possible to advert to some things around us which may make or minds more ready to assent to it. Suppose someone told you that a woman could give her flesh and blood as food to another. At first you would say no. But observe. A mother gives her flesh and blood to her nursing child. How? Her substance in some mysteries way is changed into milk. How, not even she knows, not all the learned men of the world. This milk, her flesh and blood, she give to her child.
What a mother does indirectly through the medium of milk, God does by the Eucharist. It is for us to adore God for His kindly dispensations in our regard and to thank Him. If we do this mot merely by words but by a good life, we shall understand in heaven not only the Eucharist, but all other things. "Eye hath not seen nor ear heard not hath it entered into the mind of man to conceive the things God hath prepared for them that love Him."
There is no means in this world so well adapted to enable us to love God as the Eucharist By frequently receiving our Lord we become more and more like unto Him, and even in this life we become, in a way, incorporated into the divine family. "To as many as receive Him, He gives power to become the children of God."
GOD AND MYSELF
By: Fr. Martin J. Scott S.J.