Fr Thomas’ Reflection for the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Bread from Heaven    

I have seen many people stopping in front of the closed doors of the Church and praying. The online Mass is very popular. Are they satisfactory? Surely not. The faithful are missing the Holy Communion and many approach me for the Sacrament. If it were not for the Eucharist, nobody would have missed the Church in this lockdown. If it was inspiring preaching that made them the church, it is very well replaced by presentations on social media, thanks to the advancement of technology.

But the truth is that ultimately it is not learning the Bible that keeps one with Christ; it is the Eucharist. While Christians can pray at home, listen to homilies or read them online, they are no substitute for their hunger for the real food, the Eucharist. We can’t wait for the day when we can come together again for the real food.

In the name of reformation, many Christians left the Catholic Church and formed communities based on preaching the Word of God. They may call the community to use the Bible for moral precepts and inspiration. They believe that can make them good Christians. For them the Eucharist has only symbolic value. To call the consecrated bread and wine the Body and Blood of Christ is abhorrent, at least ignorant.

Then again it is nothing new. Some of those who attended the Eucharist with Jesus also left the company of the Apostles. The Church of the Evangelist John also had the same problem. John 6:60-70 exposes the divisions in Jesus’ Community and in the Apostolic Community. The dissidents thought it was an insult to their intelligence to believe that the elements of the Eucharist are the real Body and Blood of Christ. Therefore they said, “This is intolerable language. How could anyone accept it?” (John 6:60). The same people would have shown their love for their spouses and children through their passionate affection for them rather than intellectual explanation. Only a passionate and spiritual approach to the person of Jesus can feed us with his Body and Blood. The Eucharist is the real food that binds us together as the Church. It is the Eucharist that makes us one with Christ. Without our ascent to God and fellowship with our brothers and sisters there is no real life. “It is the Spirit of God that gives life.” The flesh, the human logic, is useless in this respect. The Word of Jesus, especially at the institution of the Eucharist is the true Spirit. Therefore let us eagerly wait for the Church to be open, constantly reminding ourselves of the words of Jesus, “This is the bread come down from heaven; not like the bread our ancestors ate: they are dead, but anyone who eats this bread will live for ever.” (Jn 6:58)