The Catholic Defender: The Sign Is The Miracle At The Altar Of The Lord
June 12, 2016
"Jesus answered them and said, 'Amen. amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw SIGNS but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal." So they said to him, 'What can we do to accomplish the works of God?' Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent." So they said to him, 'WHAT SIGN CAN YOU DO, THAT WE MAY SEE AND BELIEVE IN YOU?"
It is interesting that the crowd was asking for a sign that they might believe in Jesus and follow him. At this point they were ready to make Jesus King. Jesus is King, but not over the temporal realm of Israel, but over the hearts and minds of those seeking the fullness of truth. At the elevation of the Eucharist in Mass, I exclaim in exultation in my heart and soul, "The Sign, the sign, my Lord and my God!" I love the prayer we say, "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” The Jews continued:
"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."
The bread that God gave the people in the desert was temporal, it sustained life for their earthly needs. The Bread that we receive at Mass is heavenly food that nurtures our souls. It is far more than satisfying the flesh, the bread of life we receive brings us close to the one the Father sent. Jesus promises, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will ENTER HIS HOUSE and dine with him, and he with me. I will give the victor the right to sit with me on my throne, as I myself first won the victory and sit with my Father on his throne. Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches." At the Mass, we are called to participate with the worship of heaven, we receive the Lord of hosts at the Altar of the Lord.
"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 will will never thirst. But I told you that although you have seen me, you do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me, because I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me. And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life and I shall raise him on the last day".
Jesus said, "While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke, and giving it to his disciples said, take and eat; this is my body. Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins". This action Jesus uses to introduce the new and everlasting Covenant so that all of us would have the opportunity to receive Christ in the Mass. Regardless of time and space, Jesus is present in all the Catholic Churches around the world. He is being offered through His Church to all the nations,"For from the rising of the sun, even to its setting, my name is great among the nations; And everywhere they bring sacrifice to my name, and a pure offering; For great is my name among the nations, says the Lord of hosts" (Malachi 1:11).
"The Jews murmured about him because he said, 'I am the bread that came down from heaven,' and they said, "Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his Father and Mother? Then how can he say, 'I have come down from heaven?' Jesus answered and said to them, 'Stop murmuring among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day. It is written in the prophets:THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT BY GOD."
Just as people hearing Jesus murmured against what Jesus was telling them, today, many continue to show their lack of faith rejecting the teaching of Jesus for new gospels of symbolism. Man made denominations built on symbolism due to their own lack of faith putting faith in their own destructive doctrines. Jesus never spoke symbolically especially in this text where he was clear on what he is saying. When you walk up towards the Altar and you see the Minister elevate the host and say, "The body of Christ",what is your response? Yes, we say "Amen", but do we really believe? Does this Sign bring about conversion each time you receive? We are challenged by St. Paul as he writes, "You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and also the cup of demons, You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Or are we provoking the Lord to jealous anger? Are we stronger than he?" We cannot compromise the truth of the Lord for our own lack of faith. We are called to believe in this Sign.
"Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; HE HAS SEEN THE FATHER. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world."
Jesus has given us many miracles and signs throughout the centuries of his real presence in the Eucharist. He has given us everything but a neon sign pointing to the truth of the Catholic Church. Enemies of Christ will call this a "Pagan" ritual, they will call it a symbol, their rejection is seen clearly in their denial of the Eucharist. To deny this SIGN is to deny the Father's will. Jesus said that if you believe in Him and receive this great SIGN, He will raise you up on that last day. St. Paul writes, "A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself" (1 Corinthians 11:28-29).
"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".
We need to stop quarreling and start believing. At the consecration of the Altar, I will recognize the three "P's", the purpose (the Father), the passion (the Son), and the power (the Holy Spirit) of God. For me it is the Trinity in a single action. Just as the Trinity were seen at the Baptism and the Transfiguration of the Lord, we have the eyes of faith to see and understand what is happening in the Mass.
I personally pray the words of Psalms 116 verse 13, "I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD", and then the words of St. Thomas, "My Lord and my God" (John 20:28).
Let us be like the grateful Father who cried, "I do believe, help my unbelief!" Let us come to the Lord with our hearts full of joy and anticipation knowing that we are receiving the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.
Let our "Amen" please the Lord who is the summit and founder of our Faith!