John the Evangelist use very strong language to insist in the need to nourish our communion with Jesus Christ. Only then will we experience his very life within ourselves. According to John, we need to eat Jesus: «Whoever eats me will draw life from me».
This language acquires an even more aggressive character when he says that we need to eat Jesus’ flesh and drink his blood. The text is emphatic: «My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in that person».
This language no longer has the same impact among Christians. We’ve gotten used to hearing it from childhood, we tend to think about what we’ve gone about doing since our first communion. We all know the doctrine we learned in catechism: at the moment of communion, Christ is made present in us by the grace of the sacrament of the Eucharist.
Unfortunately all this can simply remain a doctrine that we think about and accept piously. But frequently we lack the experience of incorporating Christ into our concrete life. We don’t know how to open ourselves to him in order to nourish our life with his Spirit, thus making it more human and more Gospel-based.
To eat Christ is much more than coming forward distractedly to fulfill the sacramental rite of receiving the consecrated bread. To receive communion with Christ demands an act of faith and an openness of special intensity –experiences that one can live above all in the moment of sacramental communion, but that can also be present in other occasions of vital contact with Jesus.
What’s important is being hungry for Jesus: seeking from the bottom of our heart to meet him, opening ourselves to his truth in order to be marked with his Spirit and make possible what is our best self, letting him enlighten and transform areas of our life that are still not evangelized.
Therefore to be nourished on Jesus is to return to what is most genuine, most simple, most authentic in his Gospel; it is to interiorize his most basic and essential attitudes; it is to kindle in us the instinct to live as he does; it is to awaken our conscience of disciple and follower in order to make of him the center of our life. Without Christians who feed on Jesus, the Church languishes hopelessly.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf