The Gospel readings of the past week centered on the Lord’s discourse on the Bread of Life. Thoughts and reflections on this is something very deep and meaningful. The scenes bring to mind people who are in need of food and drink. On a deeper level, however, the imagery must be taken in the context of the Easter Season. Jesus is risen and His message is quick to warn us “you are not looking for me because you have seen signs, but because you have eaten your fill of the loaves. You should not be working for perishable food, but for food that remains to life eternal, food which the Son of Man will give you; it is on him that God the Father has set His seal.” (Jn. 6: 26-27)
Early in our faith experience, we came to Mass mostly to ask the Lord for a new job, a girlfriend (or boyfriend), a new house or car, a gadget, or even solutions to our problems, etc. Those were times when we asked the Lord for favors, requests, and petitions of whatever we could think about. This actually went on and on. However, as we come to maturity in our journey with the Lord, it should stop being about the “material” bread; it should already be about being into the bread that endures, the Bread of Life. Jesus exhorted us “I myself am the bread of life. No one who comes to me shall ever be hungry, no one who believes in me shall ever thirst” (Jn. 6: 35). This means that at some point, even how difficult it is at times, we learn to embrace our cross, rather than carry it, as it may just result in us feeling it “too heavy a burden to carry”. Embracing our cross will make our life journey more meaningful and enduring till the end. Embracing the cross means submission to Christ and enduring the pains and sufferings, fully content with the thought that all the while, the Lord is walking with us, is journeying with us, and therefore sharing our difficulties. How sweet it would be then, when we have reached that point, when we’d be attending Mass, not because we’re asking for favors from God, but because we’re already at that level where, it is because we love the Lord, because we want to be intimate with Him.
This is the message of Easter! As St. John Paul II captured it beautifully, “This is the wonderful truth, my dear friends: the Word, which became flesh two thousand years ago, is present today in the Eucharist.”
Among the sacraments, there are those which we can only have once, like Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage, or Holy Orders, while there are those which can be repeated many times like Reconciliation. The Anointing of the Sick may also be done a few times, depending on the circumstances. Unlike the rest though, it is the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist which can be repeated more often, even on a daily basis!
Imagine that? Daily! Did you notice the symbolism this brings? This means, that when we join in the celebration of the Holy Mass (and thus the Holy Eucharist), we allow the Lord to nurture us, to make us grow in faith. St. John Bosco said, “Do you want the Lord to give you many graces? Visit Him often. Do you want Him to give you few graces? Visit Him rarely.”
We celebrate God’s presence, we stay in the presence of God.