Memorial of Saint Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor of the Church Father Daniel Ray, LC
John 6: 30-35
The crowd said to Jesus, "What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'" So Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." So they said to him, "Sir, give us this bread always." Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst."
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe that you are present here and now as I turn to you in prayer. I trust and have confidence in your desire to give me every grace I need to receive today. Thank you for your love, thank you for your immense generosity toward me. I give you my life and my love in return.
Petition: Lord, increase my faith in you and in your Eucharistic presence.
1. God Sets the Table: For the Israelites in the time of Exodus, the manna from heaven was a saving gift. It descended daily from heaven so that they would not starve on the journey, but be sustained and strengthened to be able to reach the Promised Land. The passage through the desert was arduous and long, but every morning there was enough manna to collect and sustain them well for that day. The true bread from heaven that the Father gives us—Christ in the Eucharist—does just the same for our souls: It nourishes us that we might not starve here, where spiritual food is scarce. It sustains and strengthens us, so we will be able to reach our eternal promised land.
2. In the Church we are Truly Fed: Those with no hunger need no bread, so they do not ask for it. Those who are hungry make or buy the bread they need. However, every man hungers in his soul for a bread that he cannot produce on his own and that no one can make for him. His only recourse to receive this sustenance is humbly to ask the only one capable of giving it; he must come before the Lord with open hands and an open heart. "Sir, give us this bread always." It is a bread both from eternity and for eternity. It satisfies our deepest hunger. But the "bread from heaven" is no bread made by human hands. Christ can give himself only to those who recognize their need for him and who ask, "Lord, give us this bread always."
3. Beyond Our Wildest Dreams: Could anyone have dreamt that God would descend among us as a man? Could anyone have imagined that he would descend further still to be our bread? Is there anything left that he would not do for us? To receive this unimaginable gift of his bread requires two things: "Whoever comes to me…" and "Whoever believes in me…." Coming to Christ requires moving—getting up from where we are, going to where he is, letting go of whatever our hands clench, and turning our palms up to be filled with his gifts. To believe in Christ is to place our faith and confidence in him. It is to take him at his word and to accept in awe the truth of his real presence in the Eucharist.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, your real presence in the Eucharist is something I need to believe more with my heart. I do believe that with your bread I will never hunger and that with faith in you I will never thirst. Help me to grow in faith in your Real Presence. I know you will lead me to love you more through this precious gift of yourself.
Resolution: I will stop by a Catholic church to spend a few moments with Christ in the Eucharist, speaking with him, asking for a stronger faith in him.