instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Sunday, September 02, 2012

The August Sacrament

Homilists spent the month of August telling the Catholic faithful that the Bread of Life Discourse in John 6 is Eucharistic. And well they might, of course; as the Catechism puts it, Jesus' words in this Discourse "prepare for the institution of the Eucharist."

I think it's important, though, that we not lightly say, "Oh, sure, when Jesus says,
I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world,
He's just talking about the Eucharist," -- as though the Eucharist were less mysterious than the Discourse.

Moreover, whether we're thinking about the preparation for the Eucharist in John 6, the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, or our own reception of the Eucharist at Mass this morning, I think we need to keep the dogma of the Real Presence in perspective, a perspective that can't see "My flesh is true food" without seeing "My flesh given for the life of the world."

It may be that we don't find the thought of God dying for us to be as mysterious as the thought of God being present under the appearance of bread and wine. But the two thoughts go together.

UPDATE: For a post I'd been mulling over for weeks, this one sure is a dud. Let me try to pump it up a bit with this (while, I hope, not straying too far into material heresy):

Jesus' flesh is not true food because we can receive Him in the Blessed Sacrament under the appearance of bread and wine. Jesus' flesh is true food because He offered it for the life of the world. We can receive Him in the Blessed Sacrament under the appearance of bread and wine because He offered his body and blood for the life of the world. The identification of "My flesh is true food" with the dogma of the Real Presence is correct, but that identification in itself doesn't touch the mystery; for that, we must look, not to Capernaum or the 9:30 a.m. Mass, but to Golgotha.

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