Wednesday, 3rd Week of Easter       

            Today’s gospel reading is part of the long discourse in the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel on the Bread of Life. For us Catholics, the Bread of Life is Christ in the Eucharist. In today’s gospel reading, Jesus asserts, “I am the bread of life…”

            One gospel commentary points out that in the Gospel of John, eating the Bread of Life encompasses the notions of believing in Jesus, obeying his commandments, hearing his voice, sharing in his life. Eating the Bread of Life means living in a manner where Christ is experienced as truly present in one’s being.

            For us Catholics, the Bread of Life is Christ in the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the Real Presence of the Lord Jesus. “Real Presence” must not be understood as a one-sided thing. Yes, it refers to the fact that Jesus is really present in the Eucharist; but it also refers to the personal presence of the Lord among us. As such, it includes the issue of relationship – that is, how we are relating to the presence of Jesus. The presence of the Lord in the Eucharist always calls out a response from us.

            If we want to make the Eucharist more meaningful and relevant to our lives, we have to see it from the point of view of giving more than receiving. Because sharing in the Eucharist means joining actively with Christ. The Eucharist is not just something we receive or benefit from; it is also something we bring and share to the needy. The Eucharist is not just a ritual we exercise every Sunday; it is also a way of life for all of us. The Eucharist is not just a remembering of what Jesus did; it is also the source of our strength to do what Jesus did. The Eucharist is a reminder that those who come to the Eucharist to be fed spiritually by God are bound to do and give their utmost to feed the hungry and the poor, as Jesus did.

            May we always experience the real, personal, and dynamic presence of the Lord Jesus in the Eucharist that we celebrate and receive. Let us allow the powerful presence of the Eucharistic Lord to transform and empower us to be food for others – food that gives life to others, as Jesus did. “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger; and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

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