Last week, we heard in the Sunday readings who God is — what He’s like. He’s, “a merciful and gracious God,slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.” This Sunday, we heard what He does: He gives us eternal life, and He does that through His Body & Blood.
“Jesus said to the Jewish crowds:
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give
is my flesh for the life of the world.” (JN 6:51)
If that doesn’t make you want to attend daily Mass, I don’t know what will 😉
I liked what Ginny Kochis mentioned about today: the irony that this beautiful feast day also falls on Father’s Day. This wasn’t lost on me either…
Fathers — and mothers, husbands and wives alike — sacrifice a lot of their being — a lot of their bodies, their energy, their own desires, to love their children and spouses, to feed and nourish them.
When I was reflecting on today’s readings, and on Father’s Day, I thought about the importance of giving up/offering up our bodies for another…
While I’m not pregnant right now (which I sort of see as one of the quintessential ways of offering up your body through the vocation of marriage to serve another), I still see how I have the opportunity every single day to do this — to offer up my body for another, for our Lord, for my husband, and for my intentions.
While I’ve been praying my morning offering the past two weeks, I’ve been speaking to God a lot about my chronic illness flare-up; about the symptoms, about the discomfort, about the disappointment, and most of all, about how I’d like Him to use it.
Because, “God’s heart calls to our hearts, inviting us to come out of ourselves, to forsake our human certainties, to trust in him, and, by following his example, to make ourselves a gift of unbounded love.” (Pope Benedict XVI)
I’ve been mentioning to God the intentions most dear to my heart: for my husband & his healing, for the healing of all my close family & friends, for all of their salvation, for the poor souls in Purgatory, for the broken hearts & the forgotten hearts, for the members of our prayer ministry.
My offering is small, I realize that.
There are times when I even wonder whether it’s adequate to offer to our Lord, especially at times when I suffer so poorly.
I wonder whether it’s “enough” to give to Him, especially if it’s all I’m giving to Him at a time when I’m feeling so unwell.
And then in prayer, His gracious reassuring comes quickly: “Bring all of these things to me.”
I hear Him say this in the same way that Jesus said, “Bring all the little children to me.”
I hear Him say this in a way that also says, “Your small things are big things to me.”
And I know that if I give this over to Him — my suffering and my prayers, that He will use it, that He can; that there is power in this small offering of mine when I unite it to Jesus Christ and His cross: His Body & His Blood.
Fulton Sheen said, “Every tear, disappointment and grieved heart is a blank check. If we write our name on it, it is worthless. If we sign it with Christ’s Name, it is infinite in its value. In prosperity, Christ gives you His gifts; in suffering with faith, He gives you Himself.”
Yes, yes, He does: He gives us Himself. He gives us His Body and His Blood, and our salvation through Him.
And from that, I take away that I also can give my body in this life for God’s greater glory, in my marriage, for my husband and for my family and community.
I also take away that it is perhaps only through receiving Jesus’ body that I feel even the slightest bit of strength to give mine to Him and to others…
Father in Heaven, thank you for the greatest gift of Jesus Christ’s Body and Blood. Thank you for offering us Your real presence in the Eucharist. Thank you for every opportunity I have to receive You. Forgive me for the times that I have done so unworthily. Please help me, Lord, to receive You into every part of my heart, every part of my mind and every part of my body. Help me to live out the Gospel messages in my life, and to also not fear offering up my body for Your will. We ask this through your powerful name, Jesus Christ. Amen.
“Some such sentiment as the following we should have in our heart at the moment of consecration: ‘I give myself to God. Here is my body. Take it. Here is my blood. Take it. Here is my soul, my will, my energy, my strength, my property, my wealth-all that I have. It is Thine. Take it! Consecrate it! Offer it! Offer it with Thyself to the heavenly Father in order that He, looking down on this great sacrifice, may see only Thee, His Beloved Son, in whom He is well pleased. Transmute the poor bread of my life into Thy divine life; thrill the wine of my wasted life into Thy divine Spirit; unite my broken heart with Thy Heart; change my cross into a crucifix. Let not my abandonment and my sorrow and my bereavement go to waste. Gather up the fragments, and as the drop of water is absorbed in wine, let my little cross be entwined with Thy great Cross so that I may purchase the joys of everlasting happiness in union with Thee. Consecrate these trials of my life which would go unrewarded unless united with Thee; ‘transubstantiate’ me so that bread that is now Thy Body and wine that is now Thy Blood, I, too, may be wholly Thine. I care not if the species remain, or that, like the bread and the wine, I seem to all earthly eyes the same as before. My station in life, my routine duties, my work, my family-all these are but the species of my life, which may remain unchanged; but the substance of my life, my soul, my mind, my will, my heart ‘transubstantiate,’ transform them wholly into Thy service, so that through me all may know how sweet is the love of Christ. Amen.'”
— Fulton Sheen, The Wartime Prayer Book, Ch. VII “The Eucharist