“The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’” From the beginning, the Eucharist has been a source of controversy. Some people have always found the teaching difficult to accept. But as Catholics, the Blessed Sacrament is at the heart of our
worship and our spirituality; we go to Mass to share in the holy sacrifice of Jesus’ body and blood, and we receive spiritual nourishment from partaking of this heavenly food. As Jesus himself tells us in today’s Gospel, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.”
From this passage it is clear that Jesus intended the Eucharist to be a tremendous gift for us, for “whoever eats this bread will live forever.” This of course is because the bread is Christ’s “flesh for the life of the world.” In other words, just as he gave his body on the cross to save us from our
sins, so too this same flesh is given for us at every Mass to strengthen our weakness and unite us more deeply to our Savior.
Receiving Communion isn’t like taking a magic pill, however. We must beware of reducing this sacrament to an empty ritual or a foolproof guarantee of heaven. No, it is quite possible to receive Communion unworthily and reject its spiritual efficacy. Just like the benefits of a healthy meal can be undone by a habit of binging on junk food, so too we can prevent holy Communion from having its full benefits when we crowd our souls with vices and sins. If, on the other hand, we wish to let this sacrament of divine grace flourish, we should receive it with a sincere spirit of gratitude and reverence, praying that we may be made worthy to receive such a gift.