“What Is It?”

Christ is risen!

Sometimes explaining things to kids is easier than explaining deep concepts to adults. Children seem to be able to grasp deep ideas with a matter-of-fact joy that all too often is just not possible for we “grown ups.” And that’s because the kids haven’t yet been jaded by disappointment, pain, and fear.

To be fair, being grown up allows us a more mature development of our lives, as least that’s the goal! Of course, that goal can be short-circuited by a failure to “grow up!” No wonder Jesus commended us to be childlike, but never childish! Being childlike allows us the ability to wonder and amazement without the childish immaturity that stunts our spiritual growth.

So, when we Christians remain consistent in our Christian message that the Eucharist IS the Body and Blood of Jesus, we are called to embrace the childlike wonder of trust AND the mature focus on the mystery of relational communion that is the hallmark of authentic Christianity. This message seems to be foolish to modern ears who are warped by some “scientific” bias that isn’t scientific at all in the truest sense of the word. Some, even sincere Christians, reject this message out of a crushing misunderstanding of the truth and a poverty stricken disconnection with the historical faith. But make no mistake, the consistent testimony of the centuries of Christian faith is that the Bread and the Wine ARE the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Period. If you ask “how” this is so, you’ve already proven you are approaching this mystery from the wrong end! But you won’t be the first ones to do that. God has been preparing us for this since the beginning. When He fed the Jews in the wilderness with “manna” (the word literally means “what is it?”) He was preparing us to wonder what kind of food God was giving us!

Look at our Lesson today in John 6:48-54:

The Lord said to the Jews who believed in him: “I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “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 you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Notice Jesus doesn’t “explain” His statement to the Jews. He simply repeats the message and doubles down on the importance: “…unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you…” And it’s because no explanation will ever satisfy the critics who can’t hear this, AND no explanation is necessary to those who love Him and desire to have His life in them. To those who scoff, they will scoff and complain about any explanation; to those who love Him, they will run to embrace the chance to have His life within them.

And make no mistake, this is what is at stake in this assault on man’s intellect and pride. Humanity has to have it’s self sufficiency crucified on the cross of what they can’t understand. The illness of human control and human self centeredness has to be confronted, curtailed, and tamed by the power of a mystery that can NEVER be exhausted by human reason. We have to come to the end of ourselves before we can ever true become ourselves! And that is possible when we enter into communion with Him and have His life within us.

Today, do you demand to “understand” the Mystery of the Holy Eucharist? As long as that demand reigns in your heart, you will struggle to embrace the power of His life within you. Do you approach the Eucharist thoughtlessly and out of habit, then you approach the Chalice blind and dumb to the true Event of having His life as your own! This mystery is given to you for your salvation. It is a confrontation to the poverty of our spiritual blindness and an invitation to that childlike moment when we trust without the ability to exhaust the mystery. It is about being Orthodox on Purpose!

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