Our Holy Father, Francis, offered these thoughts today: In these Sundays, the Liturgy proposes to us, from the Gospel of John, Jesus' discourse on the Bread of Life, that is He Himself and that is also the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Today's passage (Jn. 6, 51-58) presents the last part of that discourse, and refers to some of those among the people who are scandalized because Jesus said: "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day" (Jn. 6,54). The astonishment of those listening is understandable; in fact, Jesus uses the typical style of the prophets to provoke in the people – and also in us – questions and, in the end, to make a decision. The first of the questions is: What does "eat Jesus' flesh and drink his blood" mean? Is it only an image, a way of saying, a symbol, or does it indicate something real? To answer this, one needs to guess what is happening in Jesus' heart while he breaks the bread for the hungry crowd. Knowing that He must die on the cross for us, Jesus identifies Himself with that broken and shared bread, and that becomes for Him the "sign" of the Sacrifice that awaits Him. This process culminates in the Last Supper, where the bread and wine truly become His Body and His Blood.
It is the Eucharist where Jesus leaves us a precise purpose: that we can become one with Him. In fact, he says: "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him" (v.56). To remain: Jesus in us and us in Him. Communion is assimilation: eating Him, we become Him. But this requires our "yes", our adherence to the faith.
At times, during the Holy Mass, it may happen to feel this objection: "What is the purpose of the Mass? I go in Church when I feel like it, and I pray better alone." But the Eucharist is not a private prayer or a beautiful spiritual experience, it is not a simple commemoration of what Jesus has done in the Last Supper: we say, to understand well, that the Eucharist is a "memorial", that is, an act that actualizes and makes present the event of the death and resurrection of Jesus: the bread is truly His Body given to us; the wine is truly His Blood that has been shed.
The Eucharist is Jesus who gives Himself entirely to us. By nourishing ourselves from Him and remaining in Him through the Eucharistic Communion, if we do it with faith, it transforms our life; it transforms it into a gift to God and a gift to our brothers. To nourish ourselves from that "bread of life" means being in tune with the heart of Christ, to assimilate His choices, His thoughts, His behavior. It means entering into a dynamic of sacrificial love and become a person of peace, of forgiveness, of reconciliation of sharing in solidarity. It is the same as Jesus has done.
Jesus concludes his discourse with these words; "Whoever eats this bread will live forever" (Jn. 6,58). Yes, living in a concrete, real communion with Jesus on this earth makes us pass from death to life. The heavens begin precisely in this communion with Jesus.
In Heaven, Mary our Mother awaits us – yesterday we celebrated this mystery. May She obtain for us the grace of nourishing ourselves always with faith in Jesus, the Bread of Life.
Pope Francis has warned the faithful against being slaves to work and has exhorted them to celebrate and spend time with God. He made this exhortation this morning, at his second General Audience since the summer break. Francis began a new series of catecheses, reflecting on three facets of family life: celebration, work and prayer. In the story of Creation, the 78-year-old Pontiff recalled, we see that celebrations are the invention of God who rested from his labors on the seventh day. “It is God himself who teaches us the importance of dedicating time to contemplating and enjoying the fruits of our labors, not only in our employment or profession, but through every action by which we as men and women cooperate in God’s creative work, even in times of difficulty,” he said. “I speak of work, of course, not only in the sense of the job or profession, but in a more broad sense of every action with which we men and women can collaborate in the creative action of God.” Even at the workplace too, for birthdays, a new baby, a marriage, the Holy Father underscored, we celebrate. When we take a break from our work for these important occasions it reminds us we are made in the image and likeness of God, “who is not a slave to work, but the Lord of work!” “And so we must never be slaves to work but rather its master!” he said. Francis lamented how millions of people around the world, even children, are slaves to work and how human life is often put at risk for abuses of “economic profit” and “technical efficiency.” "In this time, there are slaves, they are exploited, slaves of work and this is against God and against the dignity of the human person!" the Pope said. The Pontiff also highlighted the sacredness of prayer and quiet moments with God. During our moments of rest on a Sunday, we find God. The Eucharist brings all of Jesus’ graces to our celebrations, Francis noted, such as His presence, love and sacrifice. In this way, in this way of being with us, the Lord forms us into a community, he said. “Everything is transfigured by his grace: work, family, the joys and trials of each day, even our sufferings and death,” the Pontiff said. The Argentine Pontiff prayed, “May we always recognize the family as the privileged place to understand, guide and sustain the gifts which arise from our celebrations, especially the Sunday Eucharist.” "The family is equipped with an extraordinary competence for understanding, addressing, and sustaining the authentic value of the time of the celebration," Pope Francis underscored, before adding off the cuff: “And how beautiful are these celebrations in the family. They are beautiful!"
This is a modest effort at a "blog" my attempt to offer some brief reflections each day that come from various sources that I find interesting - primarily the daily reflections of Pope Francis as found on Zenit and Rome Reports. Fr. John