20th Sunday of Ordinary Time

 Gospel  John 6:51-58

Jesus said to the crowds:
“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. 
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.”

 “Give me the Eucharist, or let me die!


Throughout Church history we see that Christians believed in Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist.  A few of many quote reveal this truth. 

St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote to his fellow Christians around the year 107AD: “I desire the Bread of God, which is the Flesh of Jesus Christ, and for drink I desire His Blood, which is love incorruptible. Partake of one Eucharist, for one is the Flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one the cup to unite us with His Blood.” 

St. Justin Martyr wrote in 151: “We have been taught, the Food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic Prayer set down by Him, is both the Flesh and Blood of that Incarnate Jesus.

In the 11th Century, Pope Saint Gregory VII composed a mini-creed concerning the Eucharist which expressed clearly how the Church understood the Eucharistic presence: I believe in my heart and openly profess that the bread and wine placed upon the altar are, by the mystery of the sacred prayer and the words of the Redeemer, substantially changed into the true and life-giving Flesh and Blood of Jesus Christ our Lord, and that after the consecration, there is present the true Body of Christ which was born of the Virgin and, offered up for the salvation of the world, hung on the cross and now sits at the right hand of the Father, and that there is present the true Blood of Christ which flowed from His side.  They are present not only by means of a sign and of the efficacy of the sacrament, but also in the very reality and truth of their nature and substances.

In 1825 St. John Vianney wrote: “If we could comprehend all the good things contained in Holy Communion, nothing more would our hearts desire.”  Pope St. Pius X in 1904 wrote: “Those united to Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist find in this Sacrament the strength to rise above oneself, to seek after eternal joys, and avoid being captivated by the deceptive goods of this passing world.” 

St. Peter Julian Eymard in 1857 sums up the importance of the Holy Eucharist in this way: “My motto shall always be: Give me the Eucharist, or let me die!”   We know that a Motto is a short saying that expresses our way of life. A good question for each one of us would be: What is my motto in life? 

A great number of people have chosen such mottos as: “Give me wealth, or let me die!” or “Give me popularity, or let me die!” or “Give me power, drugs, booze, and the pleasures of this world, or let me die!

Hopefully, as we progress through our journey in life we will come to believe our Lord when He says; “I am the Living Bread come down from heaven, whoever eats this Bread will live forever.”  Understanding this, perhaps we too will claim for our own motto: “Give me the Eucharist, or let me die!

Fr. Tom