By Father Kavungal Davy, C.M.I.
We have reflected over the last two weeks on the central theme: Jesus, the Bread of Life and true food and true drink.
When Jesus said His Flesh is true food and His blood is true drink, those who do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood will not have life, most of the listeners got confused and upset. They thought that Jesus was talking about cannibalism. That is the reason why they said: “It is hard; who can accept it?”
Why is it so hard for us to accept the teachings of Jesus? In general, it is not easy to accept some new ideas or thoughts, whether they pertain to religious, social or political matters. For instance, the first part of the second reading (Ephesians 5:22-24) is hard for many Christians to accept.
Some intentionally read the optional, shorter version that omits the provocative verses: “Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord, for the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church… As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything.”
In modern culture, when we consider all are equal, it is truly hard to accept these words. But when we reflect on the whole scripture, we will be able to understand and accept it.
Once a middle-aged woman went to the sacristy after Mass on a Sunday to talk to the priest. After listening to the second reading during Mass, she was angry and upset.
She asked the priest: “Why did you let the lector read the first part of the second reading?”
The priest invited her to the office to discuss about it. During the conversation the priest explained to her the second part of the reading, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her” (Ephesians 5:25).
Then he asked her: “How did Christ love the Church?”
She replied: “Christ died for the Church.”
The priest said: “Absolutely, the reading asks wives to be subordinate to their husbands which is easier than the husbands to die for their wives.”
Grace to Accept New Ideas
It is true that when we sit down and reflect on the deeper meaning of any new law or ideas, we may have the patience and grace to receive them wholeheartedly. This happens in holy matrimony where the spouses express the readiness to be humble and die for each other.
When the listeners got puzzled – finding it hard to accept the theology of the body – and left Jesus, the 12 disciples stayed with Him. There are several scriptural passages that when taken literally are hard to understand, but when we analyze the words in the light of faith, they become easy to comprehend.
When Jesus asked the disciples, “Do you also want to leave?”
Peter answered quickly: “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the holy one of God.” Perfect answer!
A believer reads the Bible with the eyes of faith. A scientist or philosopher reads the Bible with the eyes of reason. For cradle Catholics, it’s really not very hard to accept the Church’s beliefs about the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. But many Christians don’t believe in the real presence.
During an ecumenical gathering the topic of the real presence was discussed. There were participants from different Christian denominations who disagreed. It was hard for many Catholic theologians to convince them of transubstantiation.
Finally, an elderly man walked to the microphone with a small bag. He opened the bag and took out an orange. He slowly peeled it, ate the whole orange and then asked the audience: “How did it taste?”
Most of them in the audience had saliva in their mouth and couldn’t talk. One of them said: “Sir, how do we know? You ate it all.”
Then the man said with a smile, “The presence of the Holy Eucharist is a personal experience of a believer, taste and see the goodness of the Lord!” The discussion came to an end.
As the Church concludes the discourse on the Bread of Life, let us strongly believe in the transforming power of the Eucharist and the presence we need to experience personally.
Let us say with Peter: “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the holy one of God.”
Father Davy, a member of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (C.M.I.), is the pastor of St. Anthony-St. Alphonsus parish, Greenpoint, and delegate superior of the CMIs in the U.S. and Canada.