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Father Muench Says...

The life-altering power of the Eucharist

Aug. 15, 2018

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

August is becoming a rather unique month this year. I am certain that it was pointed out to you that the Gospel readings for Mass on each of the Sundays in August are from the sixth chapter of St. John’s Gospel, John 6. We, Catholics, find this chapter of John’s Gospel rather important to us. In John 6, we read of Jesus’ dialogue with the people who have experienced his feeding of the 5,000. The overall message is that Jesus wants them and us to recognize that God sends to us bread from Heaven, and Jesus is truly that bread – the bread of life. For us, we recognize Jesus’ message as the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

Already, during August, you have heard much at Mass about this most important sacrament of our Catholic faith, the sacrament of the holy Eucharist. So, today, I would like to share with you a few of my thoughts concerning the sacrament of the holy Eucharist.

As a priest, I have had the opportunity of demonstrating to the people of my congregations how deeply concerned Jesus is to be part of our lives as his disciples. I have been able to lead others to recognize that Jesus is present to us in the blessed Eucharist. I remember well the happiness I experienced when I was ordained a priest. I was then able to celebrate Mass every day of my life. I am often asked about the experience of celebrating Mass, of saying the words of the consecration during Mass. It has always been a special moment for me, and I must admit that as I grow older, it becomes even more special at each Mass. However, when I recognize the faith of all those present with me at Mass, their personal readiness to be united with Jesus in Holy Communion, I recognize the joy of that moment.

I do want to mention here that I found a new happiness and joy when the liturgy of the Mass was powerfully changed at the time of the Second Vatican Council. The Council allowed us to become more united at Mass, priest and people, since we all could better understand the prayers of Eucharist, in our own language. So, I often pray in gratitude to St. Pope John XXIII for his wonderful Council.

As I read John 6, again and again each week this month, I can only imagine how startled those people with Jesus must have been when they heard the words of Jesus. I suspect that many of you may be surprised even now, when you again hear the words of Jesus in this Gospel. Today, I have again read over this chapter, John 6. I want to again remind you of the words of Jesus as we consider the Lord’s presence in the blessed Eucharist.
So, let me remind you of a few of Jesus’ words: “I am the bread of life.” (45) “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven, if anyone eats this bead, he will live forever, and the bread which I will give you for the life of the world is my flesh.” (51) “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood you have no life in yourselves.” (53) “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.” (54)

I believe in faith this message of Christ’s presence in the holy Eucharist. My life as a person and as a priest has been transformed by this sacrament of the holy Eucharist, each time I receive holy Communion. I am a different person through the gift of the Lord at each Mass. Through the gift of my ordination as a priest, I am allowed to say the words of Jesus from the Last Supper. I don’t believe that Jesus needs me. However, I am completely grateful that Jesus allows me to be involved in this Eucharist, his presence among us, as the Lord comes to be one with each of us as we receive Holy Communion.

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