Saturday, June 21, 2014

Healing and the Eucharist

It is the experience of “being healed from sicknesses” that makes people venture out, crossing the lake and climbing the mountain, to meet Jesus again. Refer John 6:1

On the mountain, Jesus gives them the Word and soon undertakes to give them the bread. This is clearly a sign leading to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The celebration of the Holy Mass is our participation in the perfect worship Jesus offers to the Father on our behalf. It has the Word and the Bread [body and Blood of Jesus] central to it. The barley loaves and fish the boy gives, represent the work of our hands and fruit of our labour - both good and bad, inadequate, short-lived and imperfect. Jesus receives our imperfections and gives back his own flesh in the form of the Eucharistic Bread - feeding the hungry and healing the sick.

Jesus here also presents himself as the New Moses and the New Manna. When Jesus asks Philip “Where can we buy some bread for these people to eat?” [John 6:4-6] He was paraphrasing Moses. In the book of Numbers we read Moses saying“Can enough sheep and cattle be slaughtered for them? If all the fish of the sea were caught for them, would they have enough?”[Numbers 11:22]

It is interesting to know why did Jesus ask this question to Philip? Because it was Philip who recognized Jesus as the one about whom Moses and prophets wrote about. Read John 1.45. 

Philip responded to Jesus in despair “Two hundred denarii would not buy enough to give them a little piece each” doing precisely what any of us will do – Counting on the money. Doesn’t this happen to us? Like Philip, we too forget that the one who is asking us to feed the hungry and heal sick is the maker of the universe and the savior of the mankind

Jesus exhorts us to heal the sick and feed the hungry. Our task ultimately is to take the sick and the hungry to the Eucharistic table. It is where we receive forgiveness of sins and everlasting life on a daily basis. This is why Jesus taught us to pray “give us today our daily bread, forgive us our sins”

There are only two miracles in the Gospel of John that involves food. Chapter six is concerning the bread and chapter two about Wine. Together they anticipate the Eucharistic liturgy where Jesus who is both the "new Moses" and the "new manna" gives Himself as food for the multitudes under the visible signs of bread and wine. [See CCC#1333-35].

When we cry out like Moses “Where can I get meat to give to all this people? For they are crying to me, ‘Give us meat for our food.’ [Numbers 11:13] Jesus answers "Very truly I tell you, unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life in you.” “I’m the bread that comes down from heaven.”

People asked for meat - Jesus gave himself

In the Eucharist, we receive remission of our sins as Jesus the Passover Lamb takes our brokenness and sins upon himself, offers himself to the father as the perfect sacrifice on behalf of us. We receive new  and everlasting life in the Eucharist as Jesus the New Manna, now resurrected, glorified and living forever, comes to dwell within us, becoming one flesh with us. The Eucharist transforms our flesh and confirms it to His own so that we can now offer our bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God. Our transformed self becomes the seed that dies to give new life – to all.

"The Father in heaven urges us, as children of heaven, to ask for the bread of heaven. [Christ] himself is the bread who sown in the Virgin, raised up in the flesh, kneaded in the Passion, baked in the over of the tomb, reserved in churches, brought to altars, furnishes the faithful each day with food from heaven." - St. Peter Chrysologus, Homilie 67’