After 2000 years, people are still faced with the same choice! Not long ago we attended a weekend retreat with other parish couples at a retreat centre at Baulkham Hills. Over and over we heard about God’s incredible love for us, and how he is always present to us in so many different ways. St. Ignatius teaches that our task is to learn to recognise his presence, adore him, love him, be grateful, and carry that love to others. To our great joy and awe, He makes himself present to us daily in the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist.
Today we hear in the Gospel (Jn 6:60-69) that many could not accept the words of Jesus in claiming that he was the “Bread of Life” – so they turned away from him. Even some “Christians” (non-Catholics) have difficulty with this, thinking that the Holy Eucharist is “only a symbol” of His Real Presence. After all, they sometimes reason, if the offering of Calvary was sufficient for obtaining salvation for all human beings, then why must Jesus “invent” a new presence in the Christian assembly? (This was also the rhetorical question posed for discussion in Jubilee Year 2000 by a special theological commission at the Vatican in the book, “The Eucharist: Gift of Divine Life.”)
There could only be one answer: “Everything in the Eucharist derives from love carried to extremes. All emerges from a limitless will to give”. We’re talking about a perpetual continuation of the Incarnation! That’s the measure of his incredible love for us! As the messenger told Abraham, “Is anything too marvellous for the Lord to do?”( Gen 18:14a). We pray that all will recognise this gift of Sacramental love, and maybe then – like Cleopas, Zacchaeus and others – they, too, will recognise him in the breaking of the bread and come back to him without attempting to limit his power and his love.
The question Jesus asks his Apostles today is the same question every Christian must answer: “Do you also want to leave?” It is an invitation to discover that to receive in faith the gift of his Eucharist is to receive the Lord himself.