Friday, June 8, 2012

Jesus As Bread - God Likes Matter. He Invented It.

Last night, I participated in my first Corpus Christi procession - it was a privelege just to be there and it was beautiful.  As Catholics, we believe that Jesus is truly present, hidden in the form of bread after it is consecrated, as He told us in John 6:48-58.

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.  Who 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.  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.

C.S. Lewis addresses this idea profoundly, yet with great simplicity:

God never meant man to be a purely spiritual creature. That is why He uses material things like bread and wine to put the new life into us. We may think this rather crude and unspiritual. God does not; He invented eating. He likes matter. He invented it.

So, last night was a celebration of this truth.  We have Jesus with us and in us.  This Bread gives us life now and for eternity.  Just as God hid His divinity in Jesus' humanity, He hides Jesus' humanity in a piece of bread.  In Matthew, after commissioning the disciples, Jesus says, "And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age."

This is the greatest gift we receive in Catholicism - The Presence of Jesus.  He is available to us, not only as a distant Godhead, but physically present, as near as the next Mass and as close as the Adoration chapel.  This is truly difficult to wrap your brain around, but it is worth an open-mind and a humble prayer to ask God to convict you of His Truth! 

Dear God, Thank you for the Catholic faith.  Thank you for priests who devote their lives to bringing Your Son to us, hidden in the created things of bread and wine.  Thank you for giving us a tangible way to see and receive You.  Jesus, thank you for Your humility and Your patience as You wait for us to get it.  Thank you for being so accessible!  Thank you for being with us until the end of the age.  Amen.

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