Just this past Wednesday, we heard Jesus saying in the Gospel:
“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger (…)
I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me.”
(Jn 6:35 & Jn 6:38)
I believe most Christians are very familiar with this Scripture passage and many Catholics can even hum the song. However, what does it mean to us on an individual and also on a communal level?
During my novitiate year, we were asked to work on a collage that would help us reflect and express how our year was going on a personal level. One of my goals for the year was trying to figure out what receiving the Eucharist meant to me. And here I was, I was asked to make a collage out it? I wasn’t sure how I was to do that… However, I ran into a Snickers (chocolate bar) advertisement, that stated: “you are not you when you are hungry.” That really resonated with the line from John 6:35: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger.” So, that chocolate advertisement caught my attention, but then shortly after I read this: “extraordinary fuel for everyday adventures.” There is no way that God is like chocolate. No way. But, this advertisement and statement helped me find some words to describe how I would feel without the Eucharist: I would not be myself, and the Eucharist is indeed the extraordinary fuel for everyday life.
So, then the next question is, fuel for what?
Whether receiving God in the blessed sacrament or through people’s care, there is only one requirement: to be open and to be ready to receive. I love to pray with this song: Lord prepare me to be a sanctuary.
The apostle, Thomas, used the words: “my Lord and my God.”
What does it feel like when you receive the Eucharist?
I love this other song: “I received the living God” Why? Because I feel recharged or re-energized to keep sharing God’s love, especially where it is most needed.
One of the daily reflections I used to receive in emails noted how in receiving the broken bread, we are united in the brokenness of Christ, and how we are transformed by that: “Recognizing our brokenness is what begins change within us. Accepting the blessing of our brokenness is what empowers the change. And offering our brokenness to the Lord – to be used in loving service for others, like Jesus – is what completes the transformation.”
I believe we are transformed by the paschal mystery, by the Eucharist, by the joys and the challenges of our lives, and by the joys and challenges of the lives around us and in the world. Receiving-and-then-being-Eucharist hasn’t been easy all the time but receiving the Eucharist with a spiritual intent can help us. The Eucharist is a source of strength each time we face a challenge. Receiving the Eucharist encourages us to remain open to God and to let God use our challenges to transform us, and then to be used in loving service for others. A song that I love and resonates with being in loving service is the Servant Song by D. McGargill (What do you want of me Lord? Where do you want me to serve you…)?
LET YOUR WAY BE MY WAY
So, what do we do after receiving the Eucharist?
In an article from Our Sunday Visitor, we read about how God wants us to serve God:
“Christ has no interest in making us into mere consumers;
he means instead for us to become capable of loving him.”
We hear the answer clearly in the Mass reading from this Wednesday: “not to do my own will but the will of the one…” (Jn 6:38) Before each Mass, I never know what call or inspiration I might leave with. However, my prayer in the light of the daily reading or in the light of the needs of the times is: “Let your way be my way.” If we are truly open to God’s ways and tuned to God in our hearts, then God is there to show us the way to do God’s will.
This poem by R. Voight was the first poem that helped me “translate” how I could be Eucharist, broken and shared with others in daily actions. Later, I fell in love with a song, because it really brings the living bread home to me: Holy and Living Bread by Thomas Aquinas and Owen Alstott. This song continues to strengthen me and encourage me each time I pray with it.
Holy and Living Bread,
wondrous food from heaven sent,
God’s sacrifice foretold – now in our hands we hold.
Sign and reality,
challenge for us to be humble servants to all the poor.
God, holy Three-in-One,
through this off’ring of your Son, all now on earth can see,
what we are called to be:
Hope for a world in need,
signs that love can succeed
where true justice and peace endure.
I am reminded from Wednesday’s daily Mass reading: not to do my own will….but yours, God…. What are you being called to right now, in this moment?
If you are discerning God’s call to religious life and would like to explore ways of being Eucharist to others, we are offering a “Mission for Peace” experience June 22-27, 2022. Click here for more information.