Living Bread

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Eating is necessary for life. Do we eat to live, or live to eat? With respect to the Eucharist, the answer to this question—both parts of it—is yes. Eating and drinking the risen Christ’s Body and Blood gives us a share now in divine Life: we eat to live. Further, we must daily deepen our hunger for this divine Food that leads to eternal Life: therefore, in a real sense, we live to eat.

Jesus makes clear in this gospel that he is giving himself—his very flesh and blood—to us as our “living bread.” This “living bread” nourishes us now for our life in the risen Christ, and it also nourishes us on our journey toward Life everlasting. Jesus always invites us to his banquet table; it is ours to choose to take, eat and drink, and live this mystery.

Jesus’ invitation to eat and drink his flesh and blood is an invitation to enter into his own mystery of self-giving dying and rising. Eucharist is self-giving. We can be self-giving like Jesus because by eating his flesh and drinking his blood we become more perfectly the Body of Christ. This is why we can “re¬main” in Jesus—we are transformed by what we eat. Our relationship to Jesus, then, becomes a relationship of indwelling, of divine Life. This is why Eucharist is a promise of eternal Life: because we already have divine Life within us.[Living Liturgy 2021]

It is easy to choose to take part in the Communion procession at Mass—to take and eat and drink. It is the more difficult choice to live the mystery in which we have participated. This is daily living: to choose to nourish others who are hungry both physically and spiritually, to choose to invite others into deeper relationship with ourselves and the risen Christ, to choose to take time to savor the mystery with which God in Christ has blessed us. In this kind of daily living we answer for ourselves and for others the central question of this gospel: Who is “this man”?