In today’s Gospel we read: Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life (John 6:47). Throughout chapter six of the Gospel, Jesus keeps on telling us that believing in him is the work that we are required to do. When most people think of “work,” they usually think of physical or mental exertion. What kind of exertion is involved in believing in the One God sent among us?
Believing does involve a certain amount of exertion as we push back against the unbelieving world in which we live.
However, we find ourselves in a situation just now that none of us have experienced in our lifetime. We are not able to receive the Eucharist because of the pandemic in which we find ourselves. This fact is being bemoaned by many, and some are even contravening the orders of the bishops in order to receive the Eucharist. While this may seem to some as a sign of their faith, it can also be taken differently. The real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is a dogmatic teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. However, the Church also teaches us that Jesus is “really present” in the proclamation of God’s word and in each baptized person whom we meet. Do we really believe this? Somehow I think we do not. Otherwise, would we contravene the order of the bishops regarding communion services?
Francis of Assisi, the little poor man of Assisi, teaches us that those who follow in his footsteps should appropriate nothing for themselves that is beyond the reach of the common person. Franciscans are to live in solidarity with the faithful. They should not accept or expect any privilege. It is written into the Franciscan Rule of Life.
I hunger for the Eucharist as much as the next person. However, I do believe that Jesus is really present in God’s Word and in my brothers and sisters. At this particular time in our present situation, my hunger and thirst will have to be satisfied by my daily contact with Jesus in those two forms while fasting from the Eucharist with all of my brothers and sisters.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator