Sunday, June 23, 2019

(229) Corpus Christi (the Eucharist): Living With Christ, Who Feeds Us, Through Images of the Holy Land


AMDG


The 4th Century mosaic underneath the altar of the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes at Tabgha (Galilee in Israel) – the believed site of the miracle.

       God has always fed us in the abundance of crops that the earth has reaped.  Human work made the crops into products such as bread and wine. 

       We see in Genesis that after Abraham followed God’s call to migrate to what is today the Holy Land, he was victorious in rescuing his family captured by the enemy.  To celebrate: “Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine, and being a priest of God Most High, he blessed Abram with these words: ‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, the creator of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your foes into your hand.’  Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything” (Genesis 14:18-20).  Little did they know that this incident was the very first prelude to the Eucharist. 

       After the exodus from Egypt when the Israelites were wondering in the desert for 40 years, God first fed His people with manna and then quail.

The Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes at Tabgha (Galilee in Israel).

       The Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes. When Christ was preaching to the crowd of 5000 in a rather isolated rural area and provisions were far away, He fed His people.  It is described in all four Gospels since this miracle is really a prelude to the greatest gift of all, the Eucharist.    God nurtured the people with His word and fed the people to maintain their health and give them the strength and energy to walk back to their homes.  Today through the priest, His Person Christi, He nurtures us with His word and feeds us with His body and blood in the Eucharist, being with us in a real way, giving us strength against the onslaught of evil.     

       According to Matthew who was an eye witness to the miracle: He withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns.  When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.  When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said, "This is a deserted place and it is already late; dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves."  (Jesus) said to them, "There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves."  But they said to him, "Five loaves and two fish are all we have here."  Then he said, "Bring them here to me” and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. 

        Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds.  They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over----twelve wicker baskets full.  Those who ate were about five thousand men, not counting women and children (Matthew (14:13-21).  This miracle along with the fellowship of the meal among the thousands (true communion) was another prelude to the Eucharist.  See a video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=HP4sALWxJZw.

The Bread of Life Discourse Shortly After the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes. Jesus answered them and said, "You are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled.  Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal"…....So they said to him, "What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do?  Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written: 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'"  

So Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.  For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."  So they said to him, "Sir, give us this bread always" Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst (John 6:26-35).

The Jews murmured about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven”…….”Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.  I am the bread of life.  Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die.  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.”
  
The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?"  Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.  Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.  For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.  Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him (true presence).  

     Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.  This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever".  These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum (John 6:41-59).

Then many of his disciples who were listening said, "This saying is hard; who can accept it?"…….As a result of this, many (of) his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.  Jesus then said to the Twelve, "Do you also want to leave?"  Simon Peter answered him, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.  We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God" (John 6:60-69). 

If Jesus meant the Eucharist to be a mere symbol, as Protestants assert, nobody would have walked away.  Furthermore, when aware of their doubts, He would have clarified that the discourse was merely symbolic and no reason to leave.  On the contrary, it would have been difficult for Christ to be more explicit in saying that the Eucharist is indeed His body and blood, soul and divinity.  Paradoxically, Evangelical Christians interpret almost everything in the Bible literally EXCEPT John 6, probably the most important passage in the Bible.  IMAGINE WHAT OUR SEPARATED BROTHERS ARE MISSING OUT ON…… GOD'S GREATEST GIFT TO EACH ONE OF US……..HIMSELF!!!!!!

       How does Jesus give us the Bread of Life today?  At the Last Supper our Lord instituted the sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Holy Orders.  Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me."  And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you (Luke 22:19-20).  This was part of the Passover meal of Christ and His apostles, indicating that the Eucharist is true sacrifice.  

       Today and every day the persona Christi, the ordained priest does the same for us at every Mass (Divine Liturgy).  We have the awesome opportunity to receive the Bread of Life, the Eucharist, Jesus Christ Himself, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity.  Don’t pass it up!  The Eucharist is a taste of Heaven on Earth.  For a short period of time the King of the Universe is in your heart!  On Holy Thursday Our Lord gave us Himself in the Eucharist on a deep level to feed us until the end of time.  On Good Friday He gave us salvation and His mother as our mother too.

       Why should belief in the Eucharist be a problem for some?  If God can create the universe and everything in it along with the miracle of human life, the Eucharist is certainly not beyond Him.  After all, He is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. 

       The Eucharist is really a consequence of His immense love for each one of us.  In fact Christ revealed to St. Margaret Mary His intense love for humanity and thus His willingness to undergo intense suffering and ignominious death on the cross for each one of us.  Then the Eucharist is a consequence of His intense love for us…….His desire to be united with you and me in a very very special way. 


The rock over which Christ appointed St. Peter as the first Pope.  It is in the Church of the Primacy of Peter in Galilee.

The Primacy of Peter.  Christ made Peter the first pope (and his successors) through the words: And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 16: 18-19).
Again after the Resurrection, Christ reinforces the authority He gave to Peter:  When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?"   He said to him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."   He said to him, "”Feed my lambs."   He then said to him a second time, "”Simon, son of John, do you love me?"   He said to him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."   He said to him, “Tend my sheep."   He said to him the third time, "”Simon, son of John, do you love me?"   Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, "”Do you love me?"  and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you."   (Jesus) said to him, "”Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17).
                                            The site of Christ’s ascension into Heaven.
        At the Ascension Jesus said to them, "”All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age"  (Matthew 28:18-20).  Christ directed this command not only to His disciples, but to us too.  

      So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God.  But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs (Mark 16:19-20).

         Christ directed this command not only to His disciples, but to us too.  So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God.  But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs (Mark 16:19-20).

       To this day the Church continues under the authority of the Vicar of Christ and the Successor to St. Peter, namely the Pope and the leadership of the successors to the first apostles, the bishops.  The Church continues to teach all nations, feeding us with the word of God, and feeding us with the Eucharist, His body and blood, soul and divinity to complete its mission of guiding and helping us to obtain the reward of Heaven.  The Eucharist remains as the source, the center, and the summit of Church belief, the liturgy, and the motivation for all of its work.    



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