My flesh is true food, my blood is true drink...

The Last Supper by Salvador Dali

Homily for the Twentieth Sunday In Ordinary Time
(Here are the scriptures for today's Mass)

It’s interesting, isn’t it,
that those Christians who preach the necessity
of having a real, personal encounter with Jesus Christ as Savior
might also be the Christians less inclined to believe
that Jesus comes to us, really and personally, in his body and blood,
in the bread and cup of the Lord’s Supper.

On the other hand,
it’s equally interesting that Christians, like us Catholics,
who believe in the real, personal presence of Christ in the Eucharist
are often the Christians less inclined to speak
about having a personal relationship with Jesus our Savior.

That contrast comes to mind as I consider Jesus’ strong words here:
this passage from John’s gospel is all about intimacy with the Lord,
an intimacy with Christ so personal that he invites us
to consume him, to feed on the life he offers us:
the same body and blood in the supper of his table
as the life he offered on the altar of the Cross.

No doubt about it:
the Eucharist is about how close Jesus wants to be with us,
how close he wants us to be with him
-- and how close he wants us to be with one another.

The question this scripture presents, then,
isn’t whether or not the bread and wine
become Christ’s body and blood - or how that happens -
but rather about Christ’s desire for communion with us.

What Jesus is saying here is:
Let me tell you how close I want to be with you.
Like your mother or father,
like your spouse or your best friend,

I would give my life for you - so much do I love you.
But if I give my life for you,
I will still want to be with you,

so in the communion of my covenant supper
I will give myself to you again and again and again.
I want to remain in you
- and I want you to remain in me.

As the bread you eat and the wine you drink
become part of you,

so I will become one with you:
the bread will be my body broken for you,
the wine will be my blood poured out for you.
How real is Christ’s presence in the Eucharist?
- as real as God’s word of promise to us
- as real as a soul mate’s commitment
- as real as forgiveness healing a broken bond
- as real as the love offered for us on the Cross
- as real as the bread and wine offered on this altar
- as real as our human capacity to meet the past
in our remembering it
- as real as the power of God’s Spirit to make of our gifts
the very same gift Christ offered to his Father on for our sakes:
his very Body and Blood, his life, given, handed over, in love.

The Eucharist is the way, the ritual, the prayer, the sacrament
for renewing and refreshing our relationship with Jesus.

When we receive Christ’s body and blood in the sacrament
we are drawn into a holy communion of persons,
meant to render us truly present to one another,
breaking open our own lives, like bread,
pouring ourselves out, like wine,
to serve our brothers and sisters
as Christ did once for us on the altar of the Cross
and does again each time we gather here
to remember and to meet him at this table, in this sacrament.

St. Augustine said,
“If you receive (the Eucharist) well, you are what you receive.”
If we receive Communion reverently and with faith,
we become what we receive: the presence of Christ Jesus.

- Are we ready for such intimacy, such union with Christ?
- Do we want to be this close to him?
- Do we want him to this close to us?
- Do we desire a personal communion with Jesus?
- Are we open to the communion-with-others
that communion-with- Jesus demands?
- Do we want to remain in him?
do we want him to remain in us?

To return to my original contrast:
the faith of a Christian whose life is based
in a real, personal encounter with Jesus
cannot help but be graced, enhanced and deepened
by belief in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist;
and the faith of a Christian
who believes in Jesus’ real presence in the Eucharist
cannot help but be graced, enhanced and deepened
by welcoming a more personal relationship
with Christ whose sacramental presence we revere.

If this is what we want there is no better way to find it
than to be faithful to the table Christ sets for us here.
For here we will find nothing less
than the Body and Blood of Christ,
offered as food for our spirit,
in a morsel of bread, a sip from a cup.

For his flesh is true food, and his blood is true drink.
This is the bread that came down from heaven…
whoever eats this bread will live forever.



  1. I really enjoyed reading these beautiful words. Sometimes we go through the motions of Communion, not realizing how honored we are to be able to partake in the Body and Blood of Christ!
    My goal is to embrace the very essence of the Blessed Holy Communion, each and every time I receive.

  2. GREAT homily, CP!

    You have done such a fine job articulating what I have been groping for in this reading.

    Thank you.

  3. Thanks again....this was the homily I wanted to hear on Sunday. Instead our priest chose to preach about Mary and the feast of the Assumption.

  4. Outstanding - so well done. I had already posted on these readings, I may yet however link to your homily for the stragglers.


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