He Became Man So That He Could Also Become Our Bread

Dear Friends,

When we die the priest hopefully comes a day or two before and gives us the Viaticum, the last Communion we will receive in this world.  And he will say, “Jesus Christ is the food for our journey; he calls us to the heavenly table.”  He is speaking about our journey to the Father and hopefully the Eucharist has been our food during our years in this world; nothing will help us more to make that final journal to heaven.  This is the most important moment of our life: to be ready to see the Father.

One of the best Scripture commentators was pointing out the connection between creation in Genesis and the Eucharist.  It is not something I would have thought about.  God says, “Let us make man in our image and according to our likeness.”  This gives us a hint of the Trinity since the Father is speaking in the third person plural.  It is an awesome revelation that God would make man to be like him, to be divine, and to share the attributes of God in our body and in our soul.  This ought to have extraordinary ramifications in our life.

However, which is greater, the words from Genesis or the words of Jesus Christ when he picks up the unleavened bread, the matzah, at the Passover supper on Holy Thursday and says, “This is my body?”  In the first one, a creature is being made into the person of God, and shares in his divine bliss.  The second one, he is saying this piece of matzah is his own body, broken, distributed and eaten by us.  This is a far more complex than the first, a far greater miracle.  And how little we think of it.

It also helps us to see that the Word became man to be like us and to experience all we are and do.  He became man to carry our sins and suffer and die for us so that death would be destroyed and we would not be afraid of it.  And, he also became man so that he could become Bread for us.  He becomes bread so that he could stay with us and nourish us, for all time and in all places.  This is a far greater self-emptying, humiliation than becoming man.

Perhaps the Church gives us these four gospels from the sixth chapter of St. John to think about this wonderful gift that we have each week, or for some of us, each day.  The great danger is that we may take it for granted and not see the connections with how, and for what purpose, we are made.  And how the Eucharist can nourish us and help our lives to be more fulfilled and fruitful. It is not an easy set of gospels for priests but perhaps we are supposed to be the main beneficiaries of them!

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