The second part of the triptych on the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist focuses on how the Eucharist gives us the possibility of living forever. Torgney Segerstedt was the editor of a leading paper in Guttenburg, Sweden during the first half of the 20th Century. He was well known at the time for standing up to Hitler and calling him an ‘insult’ to the German people and to Europe. He continuously wrote against him and was threatened by many in his own country to hold his tongue, which he refused. He called his dog, Winston, so that two enemies of Hitler could support one another. Even the King of Sweden came to speak to him about his writings and Torgney never ceased to write the truth. It is impressive that this man, who had many other irregularities in his life, was not afraid to say the truth, even after much pressure was applied politically and socially. He gives us an idea of one aspect of eternal life the God promises to all of us especially in this gospel (John 6:51-58): he is not afraid of what others might do to him.
Jesus Christ gives us his flesh and blood so that we might say the same: I am not afraid of death, of life, of being fired or ridiculed. God is my Father and so what can harm me? Jesus by surrendering his flesh gives life to the world, eternal life.
The other idea that prevalent in this gospel is that whoever eats his flesh and drinks his blood lives in Jesus, and Jesus lives in him. It is reciprocal. He is not offering us something intellectual, not engaging us in a debate, but says feed on me, get to know me, enter into a relationship with me! The branch will die if not embedded in the vine. The same is true for us when we are inserted in Christ. Use your imagination when you read the gospel, ponder what kind of God sends his son to us, who dies for us, lives among us, without a place to lay his head? Ponder this, and ask the Lord, what do you want from me? He will tell you!
To eat or to drink is to receive. And in Communion we always receive. For example, a priest who is concelebrating Mass on the altar, when he receives Communion, it is given to him, he does not take it. Receive piously, bow reverently, wash your hands, dress up on Sundays, Christ is coming into you, don’t miss it. If for some reason you need to wait to receive Communion because you are not yet married in the Church, then better to wait.
When we eat and drink this food we live forever, when we receive worthily. Nothing can kill us. How many people who are afraid of death never really live their life? They are always working or always worrying…Death is swallowed up in the victory of Christ. If we receive the Eucharist well and remain with Christ we will never die. We will live forever. This is eternal life: to live without fear, without stress, no matter what kind of crisis we are going through. It is not just something for the end of our life; it is for today.