Hearing today’s Gospel – as with partaking in the Eucharist itself – ought to always be a bit shocking, never routine. “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life,” is just one of many of Jesus’ statements today that still ought to have the power to jolt us. Nine times in our eight verses we hear the word “life” or “living.” Just as our lives in general are a dynamic work in progress, so too, our life in Christ and his living bread is a process of dynamic nourishment and hopefully growth and continuing conversion.
We want this nourishment to constantly permeate our lives, to go deeper within, and to extend more broadly in our world. In this coming week alone, there are World Days against Child Labor, Against Elder Abuse, and honoring Blood Donors. These are three of many, many ways our nourishment in Christ the Living Bread can make a difference. As Christ is Gift for us, so we can be Gift for others.
Today, in the United States, we begin the parish phase of the Eucharistic Revival. I’m uncomfortable with the word Revival, because at least I automatically think of big, public events – religious revivals, for example. As Americans we especially think we can change things with catchy external programs or palpable things. Indeed, this Eucharistic Revival ends next year with a huge event at the stadium of a very mediocre National Football League team, the Indianapolis Colts, whose best years were 60 years ago. I get it, it’s not like the Catholic Church has a whole bunch of stadiums available, although I can think of one in Indiana itself. Ever hear of a school called Notre Dame?
But the Revival, if it is to make a difference, always starts within, invisibly, personally, without a lot of fanfare. We profit best by absorbing today’s Gospel teaching again and again and again, within, and we prepare to grow in the Eucharist by cultivating a deeper inner silence as we approach and move onward from receiving the sacrament. The more in touch we are with our inner lives, the engine for all who we can be in Christ, the more Christ the Living Bread is flesh for the life of the world.