The Gospel for June 18th, 2017: The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ
Reflection: The Beautiful Mystery and Logic of the Eucharist
I am quite sure when I was a younger man I did not appreciate the awesome power of the Eucharist. Perhaps if I had, I would not have fallen away from the Church for a number of wasted years. I thought I could make myself happy through the pleasures of the world and could not appreciate the need to commune with my savior, to become one with Him in this holy meal. The peace I experience these days directly after communion is the best part of my week. All the passions and appetites of my body are in order, and I feel Christ’s love in my heart. I also feel saved at that moment from life’s troubles and filled with the hope of eternal salvation.
That Christ should come to us in this way is a deep mystery. When we speak aloud the fact we eat the body and blood of Jesus in order to join with Him, it either stretches belief into faith or causes one to reject the whole premise of Christ as our savior. John’s gospel makes it clear the latter is a natural reaction by including this detail: “The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’” (52). It simply cannot be understood by the logic of our previous experience. It has to be believed and tried to experience its truth firsthand. It is a beautiful mystery.
And yet once experienced, it has a beautiful logic. If God’s people are to be gathered up with Him in eternity, we need to be purified of sin. Divinity cannot be conjoined with sin. Furthermore, we cannot remove sin on our own. So what greater expedient could there be to removing sin than to become like the one who lived without sin, than to bring Christ himself into our bodies and hearts to heal us? It makes perfect sense. The Eucharist is a sacrament not to be missed. We need this joyful union to transform our sinful lives and find the peace of God’s love. I like the wording of Jesus in this gospel: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him” (56). The phrase “remains in me and I in him” is about as close as I can imagine to capturing in words a perfect state of existence, the place where sin is no more, the state of salvation.