Emily: A good meal can remind us of God in more ways than one. What’s the best meal you’ve ever eaten?
Edmund: Oh, I had this meal in Greece on the edge of the sea with a bunch of friends and it was amazing, the best meal I’ve ever had.
Emily: And I bet you enjoyed the company, too.
Edmund: Oh yeah, definitely. That added to the whole experience. I really felt connected with everyone. And it was really special, it was especially delicious…
Emily: Ever thought about the fact every REALLY good meal involves death and good company? Even when you eat plants, fruits and vegetables need to be cut off from their roots or the tree that they’re on. And for the carnivores out there something definitely needs to die for you to eat meat. Often you sit down with others and eat this table of food that has been prepared for your friends and family.
Edmund: How can this remind us of God?
Emily: Well, one of the biggest questions about God we wrestle with is, where is he? If God exists why can’t we see him or experience him? If Jesus rose from the dead, then where is he? The answer is we can encounter God in a sacrifice and a meal.
Edmund: What sacrifice and meal?
Emily: The Mass has many names, but one name is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Mass is where the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is re-presented to us and we are offered communion with Jesus. The priest doesn’t re-kill Jesus because God is outside of time so Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is made present again.
Edmund: Okay so Jesus said he will be with us always and so he’s present in every Mass.
Emily: Jesus is present in word through the scriptures, especially those read at Mass. But he is also present in the sacrificial meal. Jesus said “unless you eat and drink the flesh and blood of the Son of Man you have no life in you.”
Edmund: Yeah now that I think about it it’s a pretty wild thing to say.
Emily: Many people who heard this were also confused and troubled by it. The Bible says many people left Jesus after this teaching. But the Apostles stayed with him, trusting that even if they didn’t understand it now, Jesus would help them because he speaks truth.
Edmund: So how does this connect to the Mass and the Eucharist?
Emily: At the last supper Jesus took bread, broke it, and gave it to the disciples saying “Take this, all of you, and eat of it. This is my body, which is given up for you.” And he did the same with the wine. In a mysterious way, Jesus changed the bread and wine into his own body and blood. At every Mass the sacrifice on the cross and the last supper are re-presented to us. The Mass is THE sacrifice and THE meal at an altar of sacrifice and a banquet table.
Edmund: Wow I’ve never thought about eating the last supper with Jesus every Sunday.
Emily: Jesus had to die in order to be eaten, but he is the only food that is living because Jesus rose from the dead. When we receive the Eucharist, we don’t kill the food we’re eating. We can’t take Jesus’ life out of the food. Jesus allows His life to be in us. During the Mass, the Eucharist BECOMES the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus. He isn’t present “in” the bread, like I’m present in this room. The Eucharist IS Jesus’ body, blood, soul, and divinity.
Edmund: Okay but if that is true, I can’t imagine even touching or holding Jesus.
Emily: I mean, yeah maybe! It’s a crazy mystery. Something only God could have revealed. Jesus said “Unless you eat and drink my body and blood you have no life in you.” And Jesus also said “I am the bread of life.” and when praying to the Father he prayed that we may be one, he prayed to the Father and said “while you are in me, I may be in them, so they may be perfectly one.” Jesus is the true vine, and tells us that we only have life if we live in him and him in us.
Edmund: Okay there’s a lot of life in him’s and me’s and I’s and you’s going on here.
Emily: When you eat food, like an apple, you chomp down and chew it and make it into smaller and smaller bits. You hope your stomach turns the food into parts of you. You hope the apple bits eventually become you bits. But the Eucharist is the only food we eat and hope that we become more like it.
Edmund: So Jesus’ life is being given to us, in the Eucharist, this living food, offered to us through the sacrifice on the cross and given to us through this mystery of the bread at the last supper. This bread and wine turns into Jesus, and his life is in it because God can’t really be killed.
Emily: It’s pretty crazy. Think of it like a body. All of us who receive the Eucharist, are considered the “Body of Christ” because we receive the body of Christ and his life is in us and makes us one. Imagine the cells in your body. Do you live in those cells? Is your life in them?
Edmund: Well I suppose, yes? I am alive and my body is made up of cells, so I would say that my “life” is in those cells too.
Emily: But those cells are also in a way “living” in you. And these many living cells have your life in them, but they also live in you and work together to serve a purpose. The kidney cells do kidney things and the heart cells do heart things.
Emily: Now, your cells have your life in them. And in that way they all share the same life with each other. Well when we receive communion with Jesus truly present in the Eucharist, we are also entering into union with others who are entering into communion with Jesus. We’re all co-united with Jesus.
Emily: The Eucharist, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, is the ONLY meal where a sacrifice and death has been turned into a meal where we eat something that is alive and truly enter into closer communion not just with Jesus, but with each other. It’s the greatest meal on earth! This is why we can say that the Eucharist is heavenly food. Jesus is bread from heaven!
Edmund: Well if we all are receiving Jesus’ life through the Eucharist, that means we all have Jesus living in us.
Emily: Right, this is why St. Paul says “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” This means that when we receive the Eucharist, we are in a TRUE community. We are all in union with Jesus together, co-union with Jesus. This communion is so profound it is true to say this unity is even closer than the natural relationship we have with family.
Edmund: So the Eucharist is communion with Jesus, and unity with one another. We become the body of Christ by coming into communion with Jesus’ body, truly present in the Eucharist.
Emily: This is why the Catechism says that the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of the Christian life. Everything flows to and from the Eucharist. Our relationship with God as disciples of Christ, and our relationship with each other as part of the Church, the Body of Christ.
Edmund: If this is really true then we should want everyone to be a part of this! Everyone should know this!
Emily: That’s right!, and you’re starting to sound like the apostles! The apostles were sent by Jesus to spread this invitation to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to everyone around the world. Because Jesus wants all of us to experience his life in us. The Eucharist is the greatest sacrifice and communion, the greatest meal we could ever be a part of.