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Friday, August 12, 2005

Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity

Jesus calls us to him in the Blessed Sacrament. There are those who do not believe that Jesus is present, body, blood, soul, and divinity, but simply put..those people are wrong. They have been misled, they have not been educated, and maybe the Lord has not yet called them to bow before him in humility.

We as Catholics do not worship a piece of bread, and as Karl Keating stated, if some of us think we do...well, there are bigger problems there.

It all started long ago, in the age of the Old Testament, long before the subjugation of the Hebrews to the Egyptions. God commanded Moses to have the Hebrews slaughter lambs, smear the blood on their door posts and to consume the roasted lamb.

This was not a symbol. I doubt any serious Christian considers this to be symbolic. We know that the Hebrews, in fact, slaughtered the lambs and smeared the blood of the lamb on the doorway, and the hand of God passed over them and took the firstborn of all those who were not protected by the blood of the lamb.

Please note:
* they were saved by the blood of the slaughtered lamb
* they consumed the flesh of the lamb they sacrificed

As Jeff Cavins noted in his autobiography and conversion story, they did not use animal crackers shaped like lambs. They did not squish red bugs used for making red dye and fingerpaint their lintel posts. They did not consider this command of God to be a suggestion. It was gospel and they knew that to disobey meant that they would suffer a fate worse than death...they would lose their own firstborn sons.

Then came Jesus, the innocent lamb, and he suffered for us, he bore our iniquities, and he was slaughtered. We, the faithful, are saved by his blood. Read Revelation..over and over again, he is referred to as the "Lamb of God".

Jesus ended the animal holocausts and offered himself. He was the first born, he was the lamb, and his blood rained upon the world through his suffering and death. And so, covered in the blood of the lamb, we are redeemed. This is not symbolic.


But what's missing? Isn't there something else to this story? Of course there is...we need to consume the flesh of the Lamb of God in order to fulfill the covenant. We are in need of the salvation Jesus brought to the world, but we have a part to share in this covenant of salvation...we need to consume the flesh of the Lamb.

Read John 6; Jesus was very direct. Compare this particular teaching with the other teachings. Before this, Jesus had established a pattern. When his disciples did not understand, he changed the wording in order to make his point, and he spoke symbolically. He did not always use the same symbols to make a point.

Yet, in John 6 he deviates from this pattern. He tells the people in John 6:51, "...bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world", and in John 6:55, "...for my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink."

There are those who, to this day, walk away from this teaching, dismissing it as "symbolic, speaking of the spirit". If that were true, then the crowds around Jesus would not have fled in disgust.

Why do so many deny the words of Jesus Christ himself? In the face of the history that foreshadows the reality, in the breaking of the pattern of Jesus teaching, revealing the breaking of the bread, in the very words and actions of the people hearing his words, the truth is revealed.

As Father Corapi teaches, "The truth is eternal and it is unchanging." (paraphrased).

The Bible describes the reaction of the people to what they hear and see in Jesus as he tells them that they are to consume his flesh. They think he is speaking of cannibalism, which is righfully condemned. Yet, he is God; he is divine, and there is only one way we can consume flesh without consuming his flesh from the cross itself. So how could this be fulfilled?

The people fled, and Jesus let them go; they fled his words as the people today flee the truth in any form.

But he did not change his teaching. He did not call them back and tell a different parable. Rather, he stuck to his words and in fact, re-emphasized them. Jesus was making a point and even today people are too blind to see the words on the pages in front of them.

At the Last Supper, Jesus broke bread, offered it to his disciples, and said, "This is my body" and "This is my blood", finishing each part with "Do this in rememberance of me."

I'll take the bait and agree that it seems like he is speaking symbolically...but that just doesn't hold up against history. He was, rather than speaking in parables, was preparing his disciples to follow his footsteps TO THE LETTER. The parables were done. They were finished, as was his time on earth. Jesus was no longer speaking symbolically and did not throughout the rest of the gospel. His teaching was done, and this was the last lesson.

It was the practicum, the internship, and the actuality of what the disciples were to carry out. They were to feed the lamb to the rest of the sheep. They were to ensure that the blood of the lamb, the flesh of the lamb, was to be consumed by the flocks being sent to follow even in the death of the Messiah.

Jesus was making a point. He was taking bread, the very staple of life in that time period, and he was breaking it to symbolize the breaking of his own body, and the spillage of his own sacred blood. He was drawing a line through history to the sacrificial offering of the bread to become his own flesh through the Holy Spirit.

God cannot contradict himself, and he was not about to suggest that the disciples take Jesus down from the cross, roast him and feed bits of him to thousands of people. No; there was a part of the covenant left unfulfilled at the time of the death of Jesus.

The lamb still had to be consumed.

Was it any mistake that Jesus told Peter, "Feed my sheep"?

He is the good shephers, and he gave his life for his flock. He is the sacrificial lamb, and he left us his flesh to eat. ANd then he showed the disciples how this was to be carried out. He was not speaking symbolically; no, he was very literal, and remember: Jesus is Lord, his is the Son of God, one person of the Trinity.

He changed water into wine at the feast of Caana...why, then is is so hard to believe that the Holy Spirit cannot change the wine on the altar into the blood of the Lamb, or the bread into the flesh of Christ?

The covenant needs to be fulfilled. The Lamb was sacrificed, and now, the chosen people must eat of the flesh.

When we as Catholics hear the words of the consecration, we are at the foot of the cross, and the blood of the lamb is falling upon us. We go forward to recieve the literal body and blood of our savior, who loves us so much he is still giving of himself.

His flesh is real food, and his blood is real drink, and even as our bodies die on earth, by joining in this sacrifice we are elevated, we become a part of the body of Christ. This is not symbolic..this is real.

We are asked to sacrifice ourselves, to live our own lives as a sacrifice. We, in joining with the body of Christ, accept the covenant of sacrifice on behalf of others. We are united with Jesus and with each other.

What we consume, we become, and we become a part of the Body. We fulfill the covenant.

Jesus wasn't kidding when he told the people so long ago that they were to consume his flesh.

So now, when I kneel before the Blessed Sacrament, exposed upon the altar, sometimes I can't even speak. Sometimes tears come to my eyes and they won't stop. I can't think, I can't speak, I can only cry with a sense of gratitude, joy, and unworthiness.

The presence of God is tangible, and I am so blessed to have been born to a Catholic mother and raised within the faith. I am so blessed to have been given the gift of faith and the gift of knowledge and understanding.

When I look upon the altar, I do not see a piece of bread. I see the lamb that died for me, and I pray that I am able to one day follow in those footsteps and drink of the very same cup. I pray that I have the courage to live my life as a sacrifice and share with others the body, blood, soul, and divinity of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

I pray that through the receiption of the sacraments I will be strengthened and learn to walk the path of holiness.

And I know, that each time I come to Jesus, I am at his very feet, I am in his very presence, and to him, he was crucified only yesterday. And still he offers us his very flesh for the redemption of our sinful, miserable souls.

Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When you eat my Body and drink my Blood, I will live in you and you will live in my love. Glory to Jesus Christ, now and forever. And they knew Him in the Breaking of the Bread. Thank you for that soul stirring ( It cut to the heart) witness.