Readings: Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14b-16a; I Corinthians 10:16-17; John 6:51-58
Do I believe what the Gospels say? Can I really believe that Jesus did all the Gospel writers say that he did? Did Jesus cure sick people, give them their sight, heal their bodies, bring the dead back to life? Did these things really happen?
We know that today the Church requires strict proof from doctors whether a major medical illness or bodily injury was inexplicably cured, before claiming this was a true miracle. Scientific examinations must be made. If we recognize that true miracles do occur today, is it equally credible that, what the Gospels record Jesus did, really did happen? That Jesus really did make leprosy disappear and people blind from birth find their sight and a man lying dead four days in a tomb walks out of it alive?
Regarding the resurrection of Jesus from the tomb, Saint John records the demand that Saint Thomas made, to be allowed to touch the actual wounds on Jesus’ risen body and, by doing so, to assure our faith that our Lord truly rose from the dead.
If we do believe all that the Gospel says, and I certainly do, then would I still have any doubts about the Eucharist, which Jesus, on the night before his death, offered to the Church? Well yes, of course I could have doubts.
It’s not the same thing at all, is it? I can see and touch a healed body; I can sit down and talk with a person who was brought back to life. I can experience that. But with the Sacrament of the Eucharist, you can’t see what you’ve been asked to believe. The appearance of bread is still there; the taste of wine is there. How do I know that what the Church teaches me to be the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ is not still bread and wine? What scientific proof can I find this time?
None at all. There is no proof. We only have Jesus’ word for it, don’t we?
Yes, all we have is Jesus’ word. The same dilemma we feel actually occurred two thousand years ago, when Jesus promised his followers that he would give them his flesh to eat and his blood to drink. If you read farther in today’s Gospel to the end of the chapter, you will see what happened. His followers were scandalized; they thought him mad. Many walked away and never came back. But not every one left. Jesus turned to his chosen Twelve and asked if they too planned to leave. Listen to what Peter said: Lord, where else can we go? We believe you have the words of everlasting life.
Have I ever questioned within myself whether the Eucharist is truly the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ? Of course I have. Who would not ever question it? I imagine the only folk who would not question or wonder are those who simply don’t care one way or the other, for whom the answer isn’t all that important, who go along with what they’re told but really aren’t all that concerned about it. Well, I am concerned about it and I do care; it’s vitally important to me. I have questioned my belief. I know there are many people today who refuse to believe–some even call themselves Christians.
What it comes down to, for me, is faith. I have the grace from God to believe what Jesus said. And I strive to nourish my faith by study and by prayer and by frequent reception of Holy Communion. I thank God for my faith. I try always to receive the Eucharist with love and devotion.
I realize that Jesus’ gift to us of the Eucharist is totally consistent with all he had already done for us. He took upon himself our human nature and became one of us. He sacrificed his life for us, showing us what God’s love for us means and teaching us how we may return our love to God. For our Lord to give us his very Body and Blood, in a way in which we can receive him, under the forms of plain bread and wine, that is so consistent with everything he had already done for us. Everything he did, he did so that we can share in his own life with his heavenly Father and even to become one with them. This is all his gift to us.
That’s just like him, isn’t it?