Feeding Line, Dividing Line PART V: One Proposal, Two Answers

Marriage-proposalThe conversion of the heart and a paradigm shift is no small thing.  Changes converts make are radical to the core of how they live, love and hope which happen only in total surrender.  The preceding moments of  tension may be a setting of ones choosing, God’s choosing or a bit of both.  When one is about to convert, the tension comes in the understanding of life as we have known and not knowing the details of what we are getting.  When Jesus told the Jews one day that to have eternal life they had to eat his flesh it was time to leap forward or backwards.

Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.” These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.   But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.”

As a result of this, many [of] his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?”  Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.  We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” (  John 6:59-69).

Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever—  This could be the payoff if they get it.  The people in the time of Moses had manna from heaven which was the word for “What is it?”  Jesus comes as the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6) in a visible, sacramental context.

These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum— This is not an incidental statement by John.  John made a point here that the very scene where the Law is read is where teaching happens that brings interpretation of the first five books of the Bible.

This saying is hard; who can accept it?— In my experience as a Christian in post-modern America moral relativism has often sneaked into how people make decisions on truth.  If they are grounded in the divine, truth is discovered and obeyed.  If they are grounded by the wisdom of this age then it is up for a subjective vote and the pope is in the mirror.

Does this shock you?-  This is like a spiritual soundcheck.  He then asks if they would be ready to know the big picture.  This may have been rhetorical.  The answer was no for most but Jesus is out to propose and not to impose.

It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail.— For those that read this verse and say it proves the Eucharist is not efficacious then they misunderstand what is being said.  Notice Jesus said here “the flesh” not “my flesh”.  In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus sees the disciples sleeping when they were supposed to pray.  He says there that “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).  The flesh is weak for the disciples in the garden because they were not engaging their flesh in obedience to the Holy Spirit in their hearts.  His flesh is spiritual life for the world because Jesus was 100% divine and 100% human.

As a result of this, many [of] his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him— This is the moment of decision.  They declined the invitation of Jesus for a communion that is oneness with God: a divine proposal.  They were along for a great ride and got free bread the day before.  Jesus proposed more.  As an addictions counselor working with clients in treatment I tell them their “addiction is outside that door doing pushups”.   In the same way the former life for even those that are complete converts is always wanting reunion.  To leave Jesus is to look at truth in the eye and say “No. Not going to do it”.

“Do you also want to leave?—  When I became a Catholic I had much joy but I still knew that following Christ still is a continual process.  At Easter Vigil the congregation reaffirms the faith that is “one, holy, Catholic and apostolic” (Nicene Creed 325).  Even for those that are baptized and confirmed there is an annual decision to make where one reaffirms the Catholic Christian faith.  And for my Protestant brothers and sisters, to leave the same Lord, faith and meaning of baptism is always up to you as well. We all have free will.

Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.—  The disciples are humble and thus tied to the wisdom of eternity rather than the wisdom of that age.  There is an objective truth, and they know Him as the all consuming reality (alethia).

We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God-  They have come to a conversion point and for each of them it has come gradually in how they came,  saw and were conquered. This is the nature of discipleship.

Each disciple of Jesus has a DNA in the church that Jesus started.  Together the Body of Christ is meant to be a bride to whom Jesus is returning. Jesus is The Bridegroom proposing marriage in the context of faith and reason sacramentally.

The first announcement of the Eucharist divided the disciples, just as the announcement of the Passion scandalized them: “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” The Eucharist and the Cross are stumbling blocks. It is the same mystery and it never ceases to be an occasion of division. “Will you also go away?”: the Lord’s question echoes through the ages, as a loving invitation to discover that only he has “the words of eternal life” and that to receive in faith the gift of his Eucharist is to receive the Lord himself (Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 1336).  

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Feeding Line, Dividing Line PART IV Divine Proposal To Action

partially-eaten-bread

 

I have often thought about Abraham Lincoln and the challenge to action.  Once there was a preacher with very eloquent speech who had a sermon for the sophisticated in his community that had flowery wording and gave everyone goose bumps except President Lincoln.  He was asked what he liked about the sermon and his reply was that he did not like it at all for the reason that it did not challenge him to action.  He was in a civil war and he know that eloquence was not the answer for the changes he wanted to make but action and resolve as a nation to change relationally.

What I would like to point to here is that the gospel, when presented in a sacramental context, is more fully the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:17) though it could offend the mind with offensive, even scandalous wording.  

Scandals can have many effects on a population.  They are often talked about where someone has done something shameful.  The central person or people in a scandal would rather they could undo what brought their odd thing out to the public.  One reason is because they become socially radioactive and no ones wants to be around them.  If they are a politician then no one wants to endorse them.

One of the shocking things about Jesus is that he points at himself in the gospels in a way that makes him socially radioactive.  He speaks foolishly to confound the wise with a moment of tension.  A common phrase used in the early centuries was the word scandalon.  We could think of it as a stigma.  Christians then and now see the cross of Christ as essential to expressing the selfless love of God even though it was the electric chair of the 1st century. With this irony the people who think they are wise in the things that matter and make sense are thrown by Jesus who keeps drawing them deeper.  These are the tensions where “faith and reason are two wings by which man takes flight” (Fides Et Ratio, John Paul II, 1991).  He lays out a scandalon to challenge those who would go from open inquirers or smart debaters to full disciples.  Like an x-ray of their hearts using shocking language.

 The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat?”  Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.  Whoever eats[s] my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.  For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.  Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.” (John 6:52-58)

This is where Jesus sends the inquirers in Capernaum to the edge.  The doubters get the scandal wanted. By reason only many walk away though with integrated faith and reason some remain.

How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat?— This is a response by people that are closed off to mystery.  The premise is that God’s ways would have to fit into the intellect of humanity.

unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood—  This is loaded with messianic expectation fulfilled in Jesus.  The term “the Son of Man” is used in Daniel 

As the visions during the night continued, I saw coming with the clouds of heaven one like a son of man.When he reached the Ancient of Days and was presented before him, He received dominion, splendor, and kingship; all nations, peoples and tongues will serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, his kingship, one that shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13-14).

Jesus has a dominion that does not end but a relationship with the chosen of God that does not end and is kingly, communal, and universal.

eats my flesh—  This time in the Greek text there is a transition.  Up to this point Jesus has been using a more polite term that would be used for biting or chewing but now he uses the word for gnaw (trogo) like an animal.  Jesus is upping the level of offensiveness to make his message even more scandalous for an important reason: if one gets Jesus only intellectually, then it is not a divine or transcendent encounter and would empty the cross of Christ of its power.

Jesus sees that the wise must be shown up for their lack of faith.  Again, faith and reason are meant for each other.  “For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with the wisdom of human eloquence, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning (1 Corinthians 1:17).   What Jesus lays down in the gospel is a message that does not rest of eloquence because eloquence will not change lives but an inconvenient encounter with Christ does.  What Jesus lays down about consuming him is meant to be the default understanding of Christianity of an encounter in all its fulness and was seen so since early Church history.

What you see is the bread and the chalice; that is what your own eyes report to you. But what your faith obliges you to accept is that the bread is the body of Christ and the chalice is the blood of Christ. This has been said very briefly, which may perhaps be sufficient for faith; yet faith does not desire instruction (Augustine, Sermons,  272).

Nobody eats this flesh without previously adoring it (Augustine, Explanation of the Psalms 99).

Feeding Line, Dividing Line Part III : From Mystery to Scandal

Jesus Holding The Bread

Often religion gets a bad rap and often for undeserved.  One example is being ethnocentric on God’s the favor. But the message of Christianity is a universal in design and meant to be expressed that way.  To be a Christian is to grow in holiness while being holy.  Christians have fallen short at times in keeping Christianity moved by the world rather than moving the world.

It is worth noticing how the gospel’s proposal is unfolded with universality, mystery and challenge.  Unfortunately the proposal is met with unbelief and cynicism.

Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

So Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”  So they said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst. But I told you that although you have seen [me], you do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me,  because I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me. And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it [on] the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him [on] the last day.” The Jews murmured about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven,” and they said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother? Then how can he say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”  Jesus answered and said to them, “Stop murmuring among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day. It is written in the prophets:

‘They shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”  (John 6:31-51).

It was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven—  Jesus begins to challenge them to the transcendent.  If the manna, which means “What is it?”,  is drawn back only to Moses and the past then the faith is only a subjective religious experience.  Instead Jesus draws their attention to God the Father in the context of the present.

For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world— The distinction here is that this sustenance, coming only come from God, is for the world.  This revisits John 3:16 in that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son….”  Jesus is to be consumed and it is from divine love that resurrection life touches those from everywhere.

Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said… “whoever comes…whoever believes ….Everything that the Father gives me will come to me—  They have a hard time discerning how serious Jesus is about the nature of offering himself.  Jesus speaks to them with a qualifier about the “whoever”  and points to the heavenly Father.  To speak of this kingdom is by a family table and in mystery.  Also one can see the conversion is “both/and” in coming to Jesus by destiny and choice at the same time.

For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life— But the context is in coming and believing in Jesus as Lord and Savior.  If it is just by a worldly point of view that he is just a carpenter, good teacher, great prophet or nice guy then there is little redemptive.  Such a perspective of all that Jesus is has  much emptiness.

Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother? Then how can he say, ‘I have come down from heaven’? —-  Paul addressed this to early believers who could have, and likely were, swayed by the philosophies of their day. Consequently, from now on we regard no one according to the flesh; even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know him so no longer” (2 Corinthians 5:16).  However, in the context of this whole passage it is worth considering the same for the Eucharist.  To the eyes of the flesh when Jesus died not he cross it was just a Roman execution.  Likewise, to the eyes of the flesh now one could just see a wafer at an altar of Catholic, Orthodox or Coptic parish and wonder what thus fuss is about.  But with eyes of faith the perspective changes when a priest hold up the Eucharist and says.  “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”.

I will give is my flesh for the life of the world— A beautiful thing happens in the path of conversion to Jesus.  One does get that introduction through evangelization  like what happened with the first two disciples by John the Baptist.  Then the disciples on that day by the river ask where Jesus is staying.  He said, “come and see” (John 1:39).   The measure of God’s love for the world of John 3:16 is  infinite.  The most normative way for us to respond is repentance, faith, obedience and with the greatest virtue of love.  From this we thank God for sending Jesus.  This is what early church communion was in Greek using the term for communion: eucharistia.

The Eucharist has been present since Jesus ascended and is an extension of The Sacrifice of Jesus who said he would be with us “To the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). This is not a later interpretation.  A eucharistic  interpretation was noted by St. Justin Martyr in 155 in his Dialogue with Trypho.

“And this food is called among us Eucharistia [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined.For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh.” – (First Apology, 66. 155 AD)

St. Ireneaeus of Lyon agreed with this interpretation in 189 in Against All Heresies.

Then, again, how can they say that the flesh, which is nourished with the body and with His blood, goes to corruption, and does not partake of life? Let them, therefore, either alter their opinion, or cease from the things mentioned. But our opinion is in accordance with the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn establishes our opinion. For we to Him His own, announcing consistently the fellowship and union of the flesh and For as the bread, which is produced from the earth, when it receives the invocation of God, is no longer common bread, but the Eucharist, consisting of two realities, earthly and heavenly; so also our bodies, when they receive the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, having the of the resurrection to eternity. (St. Ireneaeus  Against All Heresies Book IV, Chapter 18).

One interpretation is right and one is wrong. One embraces Jesus today for all he presented himself and the other has limitations. Such is the dichotomy of scandal or mere symbolism as I will address next.

Feeding Line, Dividing Line PART II Stumbling Into Clarity

The Beginning

To “love” someone based on what can be got from them is easy.  People can be selfish in many walks of life.  This can include spirituality of any kind in any context if the agenda is selfish and getting a spiritual high.  Even to “love” divinity but having your hand out to receive as an end in itself is a common trait and not true seeking.  It may get you in the door but it will not keep you in a place of closeness to divine, self-giving love.  The contrast is sharp in this manner: to love people and use things rather than love things and use people.  Such a change is enlightening.  From there is an opportunity to be cleansed in participating, really obeying, what God’s plan is for you which is full of meaning to a reachable point.  Ultimately, God proposes joining which is meaningful, full of mystery and a marriage proposal to become a Bride which is the Church.  Such a mystery is what Jesus unfolds one day at a synagogue in Capernaum.

And when they found him across the sea they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus answered them and said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.” So they said to him, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?”  Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.” So they said to him, “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do?  Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” So Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world”  (John 6:25-33). 

not because you saw signs-  Jesus is speaking to their spiritual blindness ironically because they are going by what makes sense by the senses.  He is making a passing remark that they saw but did not get it the spiritual reality that it all speaks to.  This is a theme in the gospels when Jesus or a gospel writer remarks directly on how there are those with hard hearts who see but do not understand.

but because you ate the loaves and were filled-  Jesus goes now for how they discern only the shallow, carnal things.  As an addictions counselor I say often that external motivations for sobriety will only get you into treatment.  The journey for recovery is to find out what you are on the inside, what matters and be consistent with true values.

but for the food that endures for eternal life… For on him the Father, God, has set his seal— Often for Jesus to propose the need is there first to provoke.  Jesus as the heart of Christianity is that standard bearer of the seal of identity that proceeds ultimately from God the Father.

Christ himself declared that he was marked with his Father’s seal. Christians are also marked with a seal: “It is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has commissioned us; he has put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee” (2 Corinthians 1:22) This seal of the Holy Spirit marks our total belonging to Christ, our enrollment in his service for ever, as well as the promise of divine protection in the great eschatological trial (Catechism of The Catholic Church, 1994, para. 1296).

Jesus here breaks ground with the audience on how the kingdom of God is about a kingship that is by covenant.  The allusions to the manna in the time of Moses points to covenant but it is always to be read by a family lens with Jesus being the Son of God.

This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent–   Jesus makes a point here of a conversion point to happen but it must be understood as a conversion beyond mental assent and not just the opposite of disbelief.  In the same gospel there is an actually a different definition implied than what is thought of in contemporary society today.  “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him” (John 3:36).  What is implied is that to believe is to obey.  James addresses this as well.

Indeed someone may say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works. You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble. Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless?  Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by the works. Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called “the friend of God.” See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone (James 2:18-24).

Jesus and his kinsman James are both showing that a response to God is spiritual and measurable in some way.  As we will see going forward in this entire passage, most of that audience were not ready for that dimension of what is said among others.

There is also another dimension to believe in “the one he sent” and it is to not be dependent on the evidence.  Thomas the apostle doubted the resurrection of Jesus.  Jesus showed up and told him to put his fingers in his hand and his side and then he believed.  Jesus said “Blessed are those who do not see but believe” (John 20:29).

What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do?  The audience almost asks the right question.  What they would get if they were to get their sign would be entertainment and a Jesus-on-demand experience.  Jesus would not be known as Lord and they would not participate tangibly on Christ’s agenda.

But Jesus has an answer on this always as they stumble into more clarity.   In the cross is the work and message of infinite love expressed in self-giving which he teaches in other ways elsewhere.

He said to them in reply, “An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet.  Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights (Matthew 12:39-40).

In The Case for Jesus, Brant Pitre makes the case that Jonah was actually dead in the whale and then came back to life.  If true, Jesus communicated in the Matthew passage that the fulfillment of victory through death is in the cross. This is the good news and inconvenient truth.

To follow Jesus with a bias to that last point is a serious thing and even a dangerous thing if Jesus is a liar, lunatic or legend.  But however one falls to their knees and says, “My Lord and my God” the Christian faith is known as a divine and materially as the true faith. As we will see, Jesus is just warming up.  First Jesus is interesting.  As we will see, next he gets offensive.

Feeding Line, Dividing Line: Part I – Ceremony With Purpose

Eucharistic-Adoration_large

Being spiritual is to be understood as one open to things beyond ones understanding.   It has to be more than finding something meaningful.  To parse the words that I just wrote, being spiritual is a temporary state of being whereas finding meaning is something you look for as the asserting agent.  To be spiritual eventually has the person painted into a corner. We are meant to contemplate only to a point but then we are made to decide.  To be converted fully is to be fixed on an objective reality that transcends any subjective truth to us. Our first instinct is to downsize truth to our understanding.  We often make mysteries too easy a defined and incomplete.

Case in point in the 1st Century A.D when an itinerant rabbi named Yeshua bar Yosef (Jesus son of Joseph) teaches at the synagogue in Capernaum.  The day before, he won a popularity contest that he was not running in, walked away and was found the next day.

Then he provokes them.  Many people that “voted” for Jesus as king suddenly “un-vote” him thinking he is weird.  He says that those who want eternal life must eat his flesh and drink his blood.  They were scandalized with such wording.

Starting around 2010 there were questions in me about the kingdom of God that stirred within me.  One was what communion really means.  I heard about Catholics saying that the bread becomes the Body of Christ and the wine becomes the Precious Blood.  That seemed superstitious to me.  But I leaned towards getting answers about what Jesus meant in the Last Supper.

For many years I would look up at a stage with good preaching or lively worship and yearn without knowing why for some fixed focal point that centers my worship where it most deeply belongs.  My spiritual hunger grew until I opened my heart and mind to the possibility that Jesus founded and maintained the Catholic Church. I began to ponder how a priest lifts up the Host saying,  “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). I asked for God to show me what I was missing.

I had blinders on about communion being Jesus Christ in body,blood, soul and divinity.  As I said above, mankind is prone to over-simplifying truths to be more palatable.  In my formation as a Protestant there are many advantages to calling communion symbolic along with many other convenient objections.

1: If it is literal, then it is a sacrifice. To see the Eucharist like the Catholics is not appreciating how Jesus died once for all.

I have found out that actually the Eucharist is a very thankful things to do.  In fact, the Greek word for the Eucharist is eucharisteo which means thanksgiving.  “Do not be anxious for anything but in everything through prayer and petition with thanksgiving (eucharisteo) present your requests to God” (Philipians 4:6)   When I found that last part, I was humbled and touched because that had been a favorite verse for me back to the year I first had follow up as a Christian.

As for the Eucharist undermining the work of the Cross in each mass, that is not the position of the Catholic Church.

In the institution narrative, the power of the words and the action of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit, make sacramentally present under the species of bread and wine Christ’s body and blood, his sacrifice offered on the cross once for all (Catechism of the Catholic Church para. 1353).

It is a sacrifice in the mass but having spiritual merit in the time I experience by the timelessness of The Sacrifice of Calvary.  God is not bound by space or time.

As for the Eucharist undermining the work of the Cross, that is not the position of the Catholic Church.

2: If I am burnt out on church, I can have a prayer goosebump, get some Twinkie and soda and call that communion and remembrance of Jesus. A formal communion is like an afterthought.

I continue as a Catholic to know Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior— but also in the context of a visible Church that is his ecclesiastical Body.  How many first person articles are there in the “Our Father”? None. Our Father…give us this day our daily bread…forgive us our sins…lead us not….deliver us from evil.  He is a corporate savior, so we should make no mistake, to receive communion is a corporate experience.

3: If the Eucharist is the standard, isn’t that religious?  I’m spiritual and do not want to be bound to a ceremony that would stifle the spontaneity of the Holy Spirit.

In short, I guess Jesus is too religious because he started this as shown in the Bread of Life Discourse in John 6. He told the disciples to do this and proclaimed that this was his body and blood.   The adoration was not something made up in the middle ages. The Gnostics starting late in the 1st century decided to blur the line so John wrote his gospel to fill in more context after the other gospels.

Keep in mind that the spiritual son to John saw the Eucharist as both the substance of Christ and the summit of the unified faith.  He wrote:

“Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God… They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the Flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, Flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in his goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes.” —Ignatius, Letter to the Smyrnaeans, Ch 6. 107 AD.

4:  The center of the Christian assembly, a true one, needs to be centered on the Old Testament and New Testament. There is no room for Eucharistic Adoration.

This is not consistent with the historical Christianity of the early centuries.  One can look at the writings of Augustine who wrote a few decades after the canonization of the Bible.  “He took flesh from the flesh of Mary . . . and gave us the same flesh to be eaten unto salvation. . . . We do sin by not adoring” (Explanations of the Psalms, 98, 9; on p.20)

What becomes clear in church history is that the New Testament was a sacrament before it was a document.  When the books of the New Testament were spoken of by Ireneus it was in the context of books that gave testimony of the living New Testament- – Jesus.

“The works of the Church Fathers seem to indicate that the use of the “New Covenant”/ Testament” as the title of a collection emerges only with the turn of the third century.  Until that time, Christians identified the term “New Testament” primarily with the family bond-and the resulting cosmic dispensation.  This use of the phrase was dependent, however, upon the ritual worship Jesus had established in the offering of his body and blood.  Church Fathers were dependent on the Eucharist” (Consuming The Word, Dr. Scott Hahn, 2013).

5: If you were to examine the Eucharist, would anything be guaranteed to be shown as different than before the priestly consecration?

If you were to take a hair of Jesus and examine it would that appear different even under a microscope? Likewise, If you were to take a blood sample at the age of 9 of me before I was born again, would there be a difference from afterwards?   God does the changing, we do the believing whether or not there is seeing.

Finally, in addition to the themes by which Jesus and the Church communicate the Eucharist to our minds, the reader should consider two simple truths in contemplation.  First, that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).  Second, “there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:7) which includes the barriers in our spiritual discernment.

The preaching of the word is to draw us to The Word (Logos) who “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14) and it was to this reality of Jesus as truth that drew me to change.  This continues as I grow in knowing Jesus Christ as my personal, corporate and sacramental Lord and Savior.  This is the journey and why it is worth it.

Thus is the momentum in the message of Jesus known as The Bread of Life Discourse of John 6 as I will address next.