In John’s gospel Jesus identifies himself in many ways. He tells us, “I am the good shepherd.” “I am the light of the world.” “I am the way, the truth and the life.” Today he says, “I am the bread of life.” He tells us that twice in chapter six. Must be important to him that we don’t miss it.
How do we prepare ourselves to receive the Bread of Life, Jesus in Holy Communion? At Mass, we prepare by listening to the Sacred Scriptures. Then in the Eucharistic Prayer we offer our sacrifice. We offer Christ to the Father, and the Father then gives us Christ in return. We prepare to receive the Lord by praying for God’s kingdom to come. We express sorrow for our sins, forgive others at the greeting of peace, and we try to get ourselves recollected.
Did we ever think that you needed to muster up courage before receiving Holy Communion? Courage. Why would we need courage?
At the Last Supper, Jesus took bread, broke it, gave it to his disciples and said, “This is my body which will be given up for you.” Then he took the wine, gave it to his disciples and said, “This is my blood which will be poured out for you.”
Then Jesus said, “Do this in memory of me.”
Do what in memory of Him? Jesus challenges us to give up our bodies and pour out our blood, to give our lives for others as he did. That takes courage.
Pope Leo I said, “We are transformed into what we have consumed.” That means we become, like Christ, bread for others.
To say “Amen” to this takes courage, because at the Last supper Jesus took bread and He broke it. Only bread that is broken can be shared. On the cross Jesus’ body was broken.
If we are transformed into what we have consumed, that means Jesus takes us, blesses us, breaksus, and then gives us as food to those who need to be nourished.
-- He breaks apart our fears.
-- He breaks down our prejudices.
-- He breaks apart our selfishness.
-- He breaks down any unforgiveness.
-- Then He breaks open our hearts that love may pour out.
He does all this so that, as broken bread, we are now able to feed those in who hunger. We are sent forth to feed:
-- The bereaved, who hunger for the bread of compassion. -- The fearful, who hunger for encouraging words.
-- The ignorant, who hunger for truth.
-- The insecure, who hunger to be appreciated.
-- The lonely, who hunger to be noticed.
-- The oppressed, who hunger for justice.
-- Sinners, who hunger for forgiveness.
-- Our world, that hungers for the bread of peace.
To participate in Mass is to be involved in a lifelong process of dying to self that we may give ourselves.
Transformed into what we have consumed, we are now, like Jesus, bread for others. It’s amazing. Jesus, the Bread of Life, feeds the world – through us.