Archbishop Follo: The Work of Faith: Daily Bread and Eucharistic Bread
August 03, 2018. With the invitation to assume often the Bread of Life to live in a Eucharistic way, that is by thanking God and by sharing his charity with our neighbor.
XVIII Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year B – August 5, 2018
Ex 16.2-4.12-15; Ps 78; Eph 4.17.20-24; Jn 6,24-35
1Kings 18.16b-40a; Ps 16; Rom 11.1-15; Mt 21.33-46
XI Sunday after Pentecost
1) The problem is that one seeks the gift of God and not God as a gift.
The Gospel of this XVIII Sunday in Ordinary Time tells us about Jesus who invites the people to seek in him not only the one who feeds the body but above all the spirit. He says of himself: “I am the Bread of Life; whoever comes to me will never be hungry “(Jn 6:35)”. This is a peculiar Bread: unlike any other bread, it is not assimilated by a person, but it is the Bread itself that assimilates the person to His nature: “We become what we eat” (Saint Ambrose of Milan). Christ makes us become like him.
Jesus is the food of eternity which we must continually seek. Without it, our life makes no sense or loses its value and consistency. Only in the Bread of Life, we found the life that lasts forever.
This is the food that the world really needs. It is a Food that never perishes and prevents us from perishing. In human bread, there is joy, hard work, and human love. In the divine bread, there is joy, hard work and divine love that makes us live in a Eucharistic way. To live in a Eucharistic way does not only mean to “thank”, but also to share.
When the heart of man is nourished by the Bread of Heaven, this heart makes sure that there is bread for everyone.
God nourishes us and nourishes the world through us. By nourishing us with himself, Christ performs a God’s action. He offers morsels of life to the grips of our hunger, that of the body and that of the heart that cannot be satisfied by the earthly bread. We, poor human beings, seek a bread that does not allow us to die: the Bread of heaven, food for the soul. By taking communion, we “bite ” into Life, and we are satisfied with love.
The important thing is to understand that this Bread is an immense gift that comes to us from a God who does not ask but gives, does not claim but offers does not ask for anything but gives everything. Not only does he give something, he gives himself.
Through the Eucharist, our life on earth is intertwined with a life of heaven and a current of love that makes the roots of the heart blossom enters in us.
The most urgent thing to do for every Christian is to frequently go to Communion and to “spend” the daily time to collect the fragments of the heavenly Bread that are also in the Word and in the sacraments, in order to be able to continuously sow them in the fields of the world.
Our life must become a Eucharist, which means a thank you. It is a special thank you because it unites to the work of man the love of God, who makes the heart right by filling it with mercy. In order to be justice among men, it must first emerge in the hearts the merciful justice that doesn’t grow without the vital nourishment of the Bread of Life. Without this bread, man does not live in truth and love and uses the creation to destroy himself. By sharing the Eucharistic bread, we can share the other bread, bringing Christ to the poor who yearns not only for food but for love.
2) “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.” (Jn 6:29).
In the first paragraph, I offered food for thought to understand the affirmation of Christ: “I am the Bread of Life”. However, there is another phrase in today’s Gospel that it is useful to understand well: “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.” (Jn 6:29)
Among the debates regarding believe and practice, morality and justice, is as if today’s Gospel asks: “In whom are our works made?” In the Gospel of John, faith and works almost coincide: the work par excellence, in fact, is to believe. It is the work “made in God” that opens the door of life to light. Believing is trusting in Christ. Believing is to remain in the Lord. Everything in the Gospel of John leads to a relationship of intimacy with Jesus. To see is to believe, and to believe is to be united deeply and indissolubly to Him. To believe in Christ coincides with being in Him.
In this regard, St. Augustine explains: “Jesus did not say to believe to him or believe of him, but to believe in him … therefore, if we want to do God’s work, we must believe because God’s work actually consists in this: to believe in him who justifies the wicked “. Then St. Augustine continues: “The Lord did not want to distinguish faith from works, but he defined faith itself as a work. In fact, it is faith that works through love (cf. Gal 5: 6) “. May our work be to believe in Christ with loving trust and total abandonment, and to nourish ourselves with him. Jesus, the true bread of life that satisfies our hunger for meaning and truth, cannot be “earned” by human labor. He comes to us only as a gift of God’s love, as a work of God to ask and welcome.
An example of an active Eucharistic life, that is of a life giving thanks to God and sharing chastely love with neighbor, comes to us from the Consecrated Virgins. The virginal consecration receives meaning from the reference to Christ, living and present in the sacrament of the Eucharist. Pope emeritus Benedict XVI taught by writing:
” In addition to its connection to priestly celibacy, the eucharistic mystery also has an intrinsic relationship to consecrated virginity, inasmuch as the latter is an expression of the Church’s exclusive devotion to Christ, whom she accepts as her Bridegroom with a radical and fruitful fidelity. In the Eucharist, consecrated virginity finds inspiration and nourishment for its complete dedication to Christ.”(Sacramentum caritatis, n.81).
Receiving Christ as her inspiration and food, the consecrated virgin feeds daily with the Eucharist. Strengthened by this spiritual food, she reciprocates the spousal love of Christ through prayer to God and service to the poor. In this regard ,the Ecclesiae Sponsae Imago, the recent Instruction of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life, says: ” They place the Eucharist at the center of their existence. It is the sacrament of the spousal covenant from which flows the grace of their consecration “(n.32)
These consecrated women testify that two miraculous events take place in the Eucharist.
The first is the miracle of bread and wine that becomes the body and blood of Christ (transubstantiation). The second is what makes us “a living sacrifice welcome by God” that unites us to the sacrifice of Christ, the sacrifice of communion for the salvation and joy of the world.
In the consecrated bread and wine, Christ offers not only himself but also us by changing us (mystically, not really) in himself. He also gives to us the value of his gift of love to the Father. We too are in that bread and wine; “In what it offers, the Church offers herself” (Saint Augustine of Hippo).
Of course, the virgin who most of all is the Eucharistic woman, is the Virgin Mary. The Holy Virgin was not present at the Last Supper, but on Good Friday it was she who welcomed him into her arms and places on her knees the body of the Son taken down from the cross. I think that she said to herself: “This is my body”. And she continued to believe in the Son of God. If her faith gave flesh to the Word of God on the day of the Annunciation in Nazareth, if her increased faith accepted us as children, on Good Friday this faith, with the words “this is my body”, joined her even more deeply to the sacrifice of the Son becoming a welcome offering to God for the salvation of the world. May the consecrated virgins take an example from the Mother of God and we from these Virgins. Then, our Eucharist will be celebrated and lived with truth and holiness
Those who believe in Christ do the work of God. Our Lady did it: always saying yes with faith she accomplished the work of God and gave the flesh that became the Bread of Life. May the consecrated Virgins, and we with them, imitate her by “practicing justice, loving with mercy and walking humbly with our God” (see Mic 6, 8).