“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.”
Our readings today continue to educate us on the Eucharist.
We hear in our first reading about the prophet Elijah who is traveling in the desert as he is fleeing for his life. He cries out to God to take his life. Yet an angel appears to him giving him food to nourish and sustain him on his journey to freedom.
In different ways, we can all relate to the prophet Elijah as he “flees for his life.” We might feel like we are fleeing for our lives by running from a problem that is causing us stress, fighting an illness, or just barely making it through the week. Or, we might feel like we are stranded in a desert—empty of energy, trapped with no way out or spiritually quenched.
Just as the angel reminded Elijah, in these moments of despair or desolation, we are called not to give up but to get up and keep going. And thankfully we do not need to keep going on our own — we have Food that will nourish us and give us strength on our journey to freedom. This food is not food that perishes, but food that continues to sustain us.
Jesus tells us in our Gospel that He is this Food that sustains us as He says, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven…and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” This bread He is referring to is His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity that we receive. This bread becomes the flesh of Christ Himself.
And in consuming Him, we receive every grace we need to live forever in eternal life. We are strengthened in virtue and united more closely to Christ. This is the Food that will fill us as we journey through this life.
Mistakenly we often take the Eucharist for granted. Maybe we come to Mass to “check the box” instead of actively partaking in this intimate exchange or we receive Jesus in the Eucharist and then forget about Him the second we leave the church after Mass.
To receive all that God wants to give us in the Eucharistic, we must do our part in being receptive to His grace and living out active discipleship in our day-to-day lives. As St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Ephesians, “So be imitators of God, as beloved children…”.
Let us approach the Lord acknowledging His Divine Presence and be open to all the graces He desires to pour out on us. Then we must go forth, being attentive to the moments that the Holy Spirit is calling us to act as He acts — in total love and sacrifice. “All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting and reviling must be removed” from us. We are called to be “kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.”
These are big requests. But they are made easier when we are actively living out our call to discipleship each day of our lives and not just once a week at Mass. We must carry what we receive each week into our day-to-day moments. It can start simply by incorporating daily prayer into our lives and seeking ways to serve others throughout our day. If we give God that, He will cause it to flourish.
The Eucharist affects our lives more than we can comprehend. We are receiving God Himself. Let us strive to receive Him reverently and with open hearts. And as we exit our church this week, let us not forget Who we are carrying in our hearts all week long.