I had a “wow” moment a few weeks back when the Catholic Church Gospel readings were in “John” Chapter 6. For several weeks the entire Body of Christ, throughout the world…. Every Parish in every corner of the world was reading “John” Chapter 6. I have read “John” chapter 6 many times and it has become the foundation of understanding how precious the Lord’s Supper is to me.. The Table of Plenty, my Communion time with the Lord of Lords.
Also another “happening” occurred this week-end that pushed me even more to finally sit down with my computer and ponder my thoughts and try my best to put this “Wow” moment on paper. This “HAPPENING” wants me to rejoice from the highest mountain top and also brings tears of joy to a long awaited prayer that has been answered. So where do I begin? I guess at the beginning.
John: chapter 6 is the beginning of this story and I advise you to open your Bible to that chapter and read the entire chapter so that you can get a bigger picture of the final conclusion of John 6.
GOSPEL Jn 6: 51-58 (Need for Communion)
Jesus said to the crowds: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I give is my flesh for the life of the world.”
The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever..
John 6: 60-69.. The Gospel of our Lord… His own words to us.
Many of Jesus’ disciples who were listening said. “This is hard; who can accept it? Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them “Does this shock you? What if the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.”
As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words to eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.
My “Wow” Moment:
My journey with Christ begins when my parents baptized me as an infant, continued as a youth when I accepted Him as my Savior (really did not understand what I had done) as a young adult I finally begin to follow Him a little closer. Did I do it perfect? No, falling away time and time again. But, He was always with me…carrying me even when I was too busy for Him and trying to do it on my own. I guess I really got serious about my Christian faith in my early 30’s and got very involved with church. Then with three years of intense involvement in church ministry and being wounded deeply, I was like a little lost sheep. God’s grace carried me and even though I never wavered from knowing He loved me and how much I needed to stay on this “path” of faith with Him……. I was confused and lost all hope of trusting church and folks who attended. Did I stop going? Occasionally I did… but He always gave me the grace to follow and the desire to keep searching for a home church. For 15 years I could call no church my home. We always attended… many we entered in hopes of calling one “HOME”.. Assembly of God, Presbyterian, PCA, Baptist, Non-Denominational, Methodist, Bible Church, Foursquare, Church of Nazarene and the list goes on. Some were one time visits and others we would stay awhile. But looking back… we were learning and following Jesus the best way we knew. It was interesting to learn how all these Christian faiths loved Jesus…… but were divided on so many issues that are important to understand... like Baptism, Communion, How is one Saved?, and stuff like should “one” drink, dance and etc…etc…etc.. The more church doors we walked into the more confused I was. A turning point for me was when my faith was challenged when we attended a very Calvinistic church. The predestined theology blew me away and as much as they tried to show me in God’s word about this “truth”, it just did not add up. This led me to read about Calvin and the Reformation. Up to this point in following Jesus, I really never thought about history. I was living in the moment and the current, newest theology out there always tickled my ears. Not realizing the Christian faith had 2,000 years of history to explore. I appreciate all the Christian denominations I entered… so many sincere folks we met along the way. There are so many folks I have met over the years that love Him with such a sincere heart and are so committed. And as much as I wanted to join in and become a member of their church…. something was holding me back. Was it the fear of being wounded again? Don’t you know that I had asked myself that question many times? Started to wonder what was wrong with me…why can’t I just join a family of Believers and leave it up to HIM to bring it together. I truly believe when looking back to that time in my life, that He knew my heart’s desire was to know “how to” enter into an intimate worship time with Him alone… But, what is worship? Is it lifting your arms in praise to Him with the latest new upbeat songs? Is it being tickled with words of hope from a Pastor’s sermon? Maybe it is a dynamic Bible Study? Sure all these things are good…… but when the sermon ends and the music stops…..what then?
That brings me to John 6…….the Eucharist… the Bread of Life. The personal “Wow” moment that touched my heart. The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.
Many of Jesus’ disciples who were listening said. “This is hard; who can accept it? He said to them “Does this shock you? As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words to eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”
You know in many ways I am just like the disciples that followed Him around. I had journey for many years “just like” them and witnessed Him perform miracles of healing the sick and answering my prayers and prayers for family and friends. But… when this TRUTH of understanding hit me; “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.” What should I do? Should I say “This is hard? Who can accept it?” No! No! I never want my Jesus to say to me… “Do you also want to leave?” I want to stand with Simon Peter and say, “Master to whom shall or where shall I go? I am convinced that you are the Holy One of God and even though I might not always understand, I will trust….because these are Your words to me and those who will listen. It makes me wonder what ever happened to those disciples…those that followed for a while but when His words, His teachings did not agree with theirs, they left Him. I hope that those disciples that left Him after hearing about the resurrection did pick up the cross of Christ and started following Him again. I hope that a fallen away Catholic who reads this might take this writing from my heart…and take it to prayer. I hope that anyone who is searching for the meaning of worship and a deeper experience with Jesus will see what the Eucharist has done for me. It has truly changed me and it continues to change me…and I still have a long way to go. 1 Cor 11:27-29; Paul’s writing to the church in Corinth warns believers that the Eucharist is more than symbolic. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body (Christ’s Body) eats and drinks judgment upon himself. I guess the “Wow” moment was realizing that He gave me the grace to stay and not leave.. To continue walking with Him, even when I do not understand, “Why”. Peter, made a bold statement when Christ asked the Twelve…”so are you going to leave me now?” “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words to eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” Well, Peter was convinced then at that moment….but he would in time deny Christ three times. It was a long journey until Peter finally got it.