The First Reading narrates how Philip was able to converse with an Ethiopian eunuch and converted the eunuch to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. We see how Philip was able to do this: he responded to every movement of the Spirit. The Spirit first told him to get up and go towards the road that goes from Jerusalem to Gaza, to the time when the Spirit told him to approach the chariot of the eunuch, Philip responded and he was able to bring the eunuch to new faith.
This is what Jesus said in the Gospel no one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. The conversion of people does not depend on our efforts. Of course, God uses people to convert others, but the first step is always taken by God. We cannot know God if he does not reveal himself. Even the desire to pray is from God. We are instruments God use to lead others to himself. Jesus said everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. We cannot come to Jesus unless we hear and learn from the Father.
When we come to Jesus we should believe him. Jesus said: whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. Yesterday, the people demanded Jesus give them bread. When people ask these things, Jesus always answers them and at this point, Jesus tells then what (or who) the bread from heaven is.
As if to stress this, Jesus said I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh. Some points need to be mentioned here about what Jesus said:
- I am the bread of life… this is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.
- I am the living bread that came down from heaven… whoever eats of this bread will live forever.
Jesus is giving himself as the bread of life and the living bread from heaven. He also tells those who heard him whoever eats this bread will live forever. We need to eat him. Jesus spoke of the ancestors who ate the manna and died. Now he speaks of the bread from heaven that one may eat and not die. Jesus was not speaking figuratively. He was comparing the literal eating of the ancestors to the literal eating of himself. Jesus is the One who came down from heaven and he gives his flesh to be eaten.
The fact he said the bread that I will give means he is going to give another bread which is his flesh. For the early Christians through the centuries, we believe, this bread is the Eucharist which is truly the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus.
Eating this Bread of life and the Living Bread requires belief that it is Jesus we eat. John has consistently equated belief in Jesus to trust in Jesus which results in obedience to him in love. People who claim to be Catholics yet go against the teaching of the Church, have shown they do not believe in Jesus because they have made him a liar, by not believing what Jesus teaches through his Church. When a self-professed Catholic who does not agree with Church teaching eats the Body of Jesus, that person eats to his own condemnation. It is a sad thing that in a recent survey in the US, only 33% believe the Host we receive at mass is the true presence of Jesus. Which is probably why we have “Catholics” who support the culture of death and sexual promiscuity.
Communion is not a right. It is a privilege. It is God’s way of giving us life. And if we receive it in a state of mortal sin, we receive it to our condemnation.
Lord, help me to believe that the Bread I receive is your Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Let me not profane it Lord. Instead, let me examine myself before I receive it. And when I do, let it lead me to eternal life.