Sunday, April 21, 2013

To eat is to discern

We interrupt our series on the Apostles’ Creed for a brief reflection.  Recently, in the daily mass readings we have been listening to John 6, Jesus’ bread of life discourse.  The basic thrust of Jesus’ teaching is that faith in Him leads to reception of the Eucharist and reception of the Eucharist leads to eternal life.  Simply put, believing leads to eating and eating and leads to Life.

It could also be said that if eating leads to eternal life, then to eat is to discern.  In fact, according to Fr. Timothy Gallagher in his book Discerning the Will of God, regular reception and worship of the Eucharist is one of the principal means of discerning God’s will (pp.50-52).  Why is that?  Because, Jesus says “no one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him…” (Jn 6:44).  Where is this draw of the Father felt more powerfully than in the Eucharist?

In the Eucharist we are a gift from the Father to the Son, a gift Jesus promises to protect and to lead to the Father:  “All that the Father gives me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out.  For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me; and this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day” (Jn 6:37-39). 

When we eat a nice steak, we don’t become the steak, the steak becomes us.  But through frequent reception of the Eucharist—“the living bread” (Jn 6:51), “the flesh” of Jesus given for the life of the world (Jn 6:51)—we gradually become Jesus.  We gradually enter more deeply into His risen life and His relationship with the Father and we gradually adopt the fundamental disposition of His Sacred Heart:  “I have come down from heaven not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me…” (Jn 6:38).

This fundamental disposition of Jesus is the fundamental disposition of discernment:  openness to whatever God wills (see Discerning the Will of God, pp. 31-49).  To eat is to discern.  To eat is to be drawn by the Father through His Son, the Good Shepherd (cf. Jn 10).  Receive the Eucharist with confidence and know that you are already on the Way (cf. Jn 14:6).

God Bless You,

Fr. Isaac Spinharney, CFR
St. Joseph Friary
Harlem, NY

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