Deuteronomy 8: 2-3, 14b-16a – 1 Cor 10: 16-17 – John 6: 51-58
I am a firm believer that every day, every situation, offers lessons that can be learned. I find this to be true particularly with the presence of the virus, Covid-19. The greatest effect for us as a parish was, of course, the suspension of the public celebration of Mass. We have not experienced such a thing here during our lifetime. Something which we pretty much took for granted, Sunday Mass, was gone. Perhaps the absence of the availability of Sunday Mass, however, has allowed us to appreciate it all the more. It is the Eucharist that we share with one another and, more importantly, it in the Eucharist that the intimate union with God is also shared.
It is that relationship of God with us, with all creation and all humankind, that the Scriptures seek to reveal us and make known to us, time and again. This is abundantly clear, for example, in the account we hear from the Book of Deuteronomy today. We are reminded of what God has done for the chosen People It is a reminder of how God has nourished and sustained them as they wandered in the desert, as God does now in the Eucharist.
Jesus takes this nourishment and sustenance to a new and greater dimension. He gives not just a product of the earth which will spoil. Rather, he gives his very essence, his Body and Blood. He gives the whole of what he, the life that flows from him, to us. He gives us these things to us to nourish and sustain us in our lives.
Like those who hear him then, so is it even now. What he says is easily rejected. Any number of excuses are made for this. This loving gift that is offered to us is even scoffed at.
The Eucharist we share, the Body and Blood of Christ that we recall today, is that love of God offered to us today – day after day and week after week. These are not just words or just some recollection of an event in the past but, in a very substantial way, the Body and Blood, the whole of the person of Jesus Christ. Even if rejected, this gift of love is still offered freely and unconditionally.
In our human experience, when we eat, what we consume becomes part of us. Food is a necessity for us as a means to nourish and sustain life in us. It is the message of Jesus Christ that God is not only to be known and worshiped but God desires to be a very part of our lives. The Eucharist is not a gesture. It is a reality by which God joins us to nourish and to sustain us. It is the sharing of the very essence of Jesus Christ in his Body and his Blood.
This is the mystery of the Eucharist. A mystery that, perhaps, we appreciate even more now, having experienced its absence. God’s love is extended to us, not in words but in the very being of God-made-man. This is the gift of God’s love that is made so freely available to us. It is for this gift of love that we give thanks today to our good and gracious God.