Sunday, August 2, 2009

"I am the Bread of Life..".

From Fr. James Fargaglia...

“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst” (John 6: 35).

Last week we began our consideration of the 6th chapter of the Gospel of John. The entire chapter is a catechesis on the awesome mystery of the Eucharist.

The first part (verses 1-21) consists of two miracles. The second part (verses 22-71) contains the body of teaching on the Eucharist. The miracles are an important introduction to the teaching. John the Evangelist is focusing in on the divinity of Jesus. Only God can perform miracles. If Jesus can multiply the loaves and the fishes; if Jesus can walk on the water, he can also change bread and wine into himself.

As we journey through chapter 6 of John’s Gospel, we need to be crystal clear what we mean by transubstantiation and real presence. Let us quickly review what we discussed last Sunday.

Transubstantiation means "change of substance", or "change of reality." When the priest repeats the words that Jesus spoken at the Last Supper, the bread is no longer bread, and the wine is no longer wine. Instead, the entire substance of the bread and the entire substance of the wine have been changed into the substance of The Body and Blood of Christ. Transubstantiation occurs only by the power of God, and in a way that we cannot empirically detect. We know that transubstantiation takes place through the certainty of faith. Jesus, the Son of God; Jesus the Messiah; Jesus the Lord and Savior of the universe said: "This is my body"; "This is my blood". Faith is a vision superior to reason, but it does not contradict reason, precisely because faith relies upon the authority of God who does not deceive, nor can be deceived. Jesus is the truth and thus is incapable of lying.

Real presence refers to the presence of our Eucharistic Lord. We read the following in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

“The mode of Christ’s presence under the Eucharistic species is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all the sacraments tend. In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really and substantially contained. This presence is called real – by which is not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if they could not be real too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1374).

Now, that we have reviewed the essential points from last week’s Sunday homily, let’s turn our thoughts to the Catholic priesthood. There is an old saying that affirms: without the priest there is no Eucharist and without the Eucharist there is no priest... Continued here)

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