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Questions and Answers
Friday of the Third Week of Easter
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.” These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, break open your word to me as I turn my hearts to you in prayer. I long to remain in you and let you remain in me. Just as you challenged the crowds with the truth of your Flesh and Blood being offered for them, you challenge me with the truth which gives me life. And as I have prayed all week, make my heart burn while you speak to me.
- Questioning Jesus: The reading says that the Jews quarreled among themselves as they grappled with the meaning of his words. They were struggling and asking how this could be possible. Like their forefather Moses who doubted and struck the rock twice, or Jacob who wrestled with God in order to obtain a promise, so did their descendants wrestle and quarrel. And Jesus didn’t make it easy on them, but rather repeated the challenging truth, for which there was no obvious resolution other than to believe in him and his words. Belief and trust is often the only answer when we don’t understand what God is doing or saying in our lives.
- Our Ancestors: Jesus referred to the ancestors of the Jews who ate manna in the desert and still died. That bread was to sustain them until they got to the promised land of Cana, which it did. Yet this new manna of Jesus’s Flesh and Blood will sustain us until we all arrive in our heavenly promised land. There is no death for us if we believe in him and are fed by him. Jesus makes clear that the result of the bread he offers is “unlike” that of the bread their ancestors ate. He promises life!
- Teaching in the Synagogue: Jesus was teaching in Capernaum, the hometown of Peter, Andrew, and James. This was a town of commerce at the base of the hill where he taught the beatitudes of the kingdom. It was the town on the seashore of the Sea of Galilee where Jesus originally called his Apostles. It was the town–the apostle’s small and busy town–where he challenged them with the truths he came to teach. Jesus did not shy away from the tougher-to-believe aspects of his messages. He shared them with everyone in the synagogue, all of his disciples’ family and friends. Although these truths were difficult to believe, they are also extremely beautiful. God wants to nourish us in this life and bring us to eternal life. God wants to sustain us in the desert of this life! God wants to be our manna! He challenges us because Jesus loves us and wants us to follow him, even if we don’t understand everything he says at the moment!
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, your words are truth and life. Like Peter, we have believed and come to know. To whom shall we go, for you have the words of everlasting life. I will never turn away from the challenging yet life-giving words you speak to me in the Catholic Church and in your Scriptures. Speak Lord, your servant is listening! Amen.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will renew my “yes” to you frequently. The “yes” of my baptism. The “yes” of my confirmation. The “Amen” of my first communion. The “yes” of my life’s vocation.
For Further Reflection: The mode of Christ’s presence under the Eucharistic species is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as “the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all the sacraments tend.” In the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist “the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.” “This presence is called ‘real’—by which is not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if they could not be ‘real’ too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1374).
Fr. Mark Haydu, LC, is a priest living in Rye, New York. He currently serves as the local New York Chaplain for the Lumen Institute where he offers spiritual coaching to business leaders seeking to integrate faith, character, and leadership: www.lumeninstitute.org. He hails from Akron, Ohio.