Saturday, November 19, 2011
Blog # 206 John Chapter 6 - 7
Blog # 206 John Chapter 6 - 7 "I myself am the living bread come down from heaven. If anyone eats this bread he shall live forever; the bread I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world." At this the Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can he give us his flesh to eat?" ( John 6: 51). St. Paul helps us answer that question in his first letter to the Corinthians: 1Cor. 11:23-27. "I received from the Lord what I handed on to you, namely that the Lord Jesus, on the night in which he was betrayed took bread, and after he had given thanks, broke it and said, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me. In the same way, after the supper, he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood"....Every time, then , you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes. This means that whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily sins against the body and blood of the Lord." In all of the texts w e have been considering from Chapter 6 of St. John and here again in the text from St. Paul's letter to the Corinthians dated around the middle of the 1st Century, we have a clear Biblical claim for a real personal presence of Jesus in the bread and wine of the Last Supper almost two thousand years ago in Jerusalem and in our current moment of history daily in Catholic Churches throughout the world in the Eucharistic Sacrifice of the Mass. We must ever keep in mind that in our Catholic theology anything we might think, say or even imagine in relation to God must be understood analogously rather than in equivocal terms such as yes or no with no further interpretation or explanation necessary. For example we can ask of the picture of our State Senator on the information sheet he sends to us in the mail each week "Who is that?" and someone can answer correctly with the person's name though the Senator is a living person and for the time being the picture is merely ink on paper. That is a significant difference! The statment is true and not true at the same time, in different ways. Someone could say with confidence and correctly "yes" or "no" if I were to ask : "Is that George Washington?. The difference between our limited thoughts words and imagination is infinitely different from the actual truth in God though it can be enough akin to that truth that our thoughts words and imagination can express and understand divine truth in a partial analogous way. I have found it useful to have those insights in mind in my effort to understand and appreciate the reality of the presence of Jesus in what my limited yet valid natural experience identifies as bread and wine. It was also helpful to realize there are several ways one person can be present to another. This can be illustrated in the following scenario. A small town has erected a monument to the local men and women who have laid down their lives in a recent war.One of the State Senators who was born and raised in that town was scheduled to speak at the dedication ceremony. On the day before the dedication was scheduled the Senator's mother and sister were killed in an auto accident. He had a choice to make. Asking to be excused was one of them. Being present for the speech in spite of his sorrow was another. There were further options. He could have given a copy of his speech to a friend and have his friend read it for us. The Senator would have been present in a limited yet real way . He could have recorded the message and have it played on a loud speaker for all of us to hear. With our eyes closed his presence would have been heard by us in a way identical to how it would have been heard had he been physically present. We would have actually listened to the Senator's voice, but it would have come to us from yesterday when he recorded it. Another way would have been for him to phone the message to us and have it amplified for all to hear. That method of being present would have made it possible for the Senator to be with us really and currently. We would have been listening to his actual words being spoken far away but present to us as close as our ears. With an I Phone or a Skype situation hooked up we could have had a 'living' picture of him speaking. All of these ways of being present are naturally available to us. We could make use of them whether we believe in God or not. What of the bread and wine we are considering and the presence of Jesus? It is not just another natural way for someone to be present but an absolutely supernatural presence. It is a supernatural mystery infinitely beyond though not in contradiction to the limited capacity for being detected by our our limited natural thoughts words and imagination . In the light of this insight our faith in what we have come to refer to as "the Real Presence" of Jesus in the Eucharist will never grow old or be superseded by whatever progress in human knowledge and accomplishment lie ahead of us as human creatures in the world to come, even though that be billions of light years from now. There are a few other insights that have been useful to me in growing in my understanding and appreciation of the Real Presence that I would like to share with you but this blog is already about the right length so I will try to get another one out either later on this evening or tomorrow . May the Lord be with you as I have been with you in my love for you and my desire to grow together with you in our knowledge and love for Jesus and one another in his name.