Today’s Gospel reading is from the beginning of Jesus’ Bread of Life discourse. As we will see in the Gospel readings over the next few days, Jesus makes it more and more explicit that eating His body and drinking His blood in a mysterious, yet very real and physical way will bring us eternal life. He also makes it clear that He “will not reject anyone who comes to [Him.]” The Eucharist, which Jesus established in John 6 and at the Last Supper as the sign of the New Covenant, is intended for everyone.
When my husband, Patrick, was a freshman, he attended a college that was faithful to its Catholic identity, though he himself had left the Church. My husband’s radical faith in Christ was clear to everyone who knew him, but the longer he was a part of this dynamic college community, the more he was drawn to the faith of his childhood. Yet, one of the issues he continued to struggle with was believing in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
At one point, he and his roommate had been hosting a visitor to campus, and as the young man was leaving their dorm room to attend Mass, he invited my husband along. Patrick politely declined. After the visitor left, Patrick prayed, “Lord, you know my struggle with the Catholic teaching about the Eucharist. If it is really you in the Eucharist, please show me.” As he prayed, he heard a knock at the door. Patrick opened the door to see that the young man had returned. He asked Patrick, “Are you having trouble believing in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist?” My husband murmured something non-committal, and the young man simply said, “Just keep praying. God will show you.”
This compassionate young man, recognizing that my husband had a profound relationship with Christ, could have let my husband continue his faith journey as an evangelical Christian without mentioning the Eucharist. Instead, he stepped out in faith, wanting Patrick to experience all that Christ had for him.
Perhaps as Catholics we sometimes forget that the Eucharist just the way we “do church.” It is the way that Christ himself desires us to be united with Him. Our Lord wants everyone to believe in Him, and He invites believers to eat His body and drink His blood, so that we might have eternal life. This reality shocked the people Jesus was speaking to. It may shock those to whom we speak. Nevertheless, we should not be afraid to invite others to explore the wondrous mysteries of the Holy Eucharist.
Christine Hanus is a thwarted idealist who, nevertheless, lives quite happily in Upstate NY. She is a wife and mother of five grown children.
Feature Image Credit: dodo 71, https://pixabay.com/photos/mosaic-supper-jesus-bread-wine-4609565/