“Take and Eat"
At the end of July we will begin a very special five weeks of Sunday Gospels, all drawn from the beautiful sixth chapter of John, the Great Invitation to the Eucharist.
At the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, Andrew and many others were followers of John the Baptist. John was a conversion preacher: he called people back to their Jewish faith, to live a relationship with God that was rooted in their very hearts. He also called his listeners to prepare for the coming of the Messiah. He made no pretense that he was establishing anything new – especially not a new religion. His call to people was to get serious about God and to open their eyes to be ready to see the Promised One when he came (Luke 3:1-18).
John was a stepping stone: helping his disciples to go on to discover Jesus himself. “One mightier than I is coming after me…I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Mark 1:7-8). One day, he beheld Jesus walking toward him and said it plainly, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:29 and 36).
In every age God raises up preachers and teachers to call us to repentance and conversion. What a great event it is when one of these men comes to preach a parish mission or revival! People feel God stir in their hearts, they repent of their sins, they begin anew. But those who are called to preach repentance, like John, are temporary; they are bridges to the great reality who is Jesus Christ.
Sadly, many Christians believe that our faith is similar to that of the followers of John the Baptizer: hear the word, repent, believe. Jesus was abundantly clear in John 6 that there is another major step after being baptized with water and the Holy Spirit: coming to the table of the Eucharist. This was a command of Jesus, practiced faithfully by the early Church and passed down to us through the Bible and Tradition.
Simply hearing and repenting is never enough, although both are vitally important. Accepting Jesus into your heart is not only an act of will and spirit, but also an action of the human body as it receives the very Person of Christ made present in bread and wine.Jesus’ command to receive him physically in the Eucharist causes some to say, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” and so return to doing life their own way on their own terms (John 6:61, 66).
We believe and accept the invitation, the command of Jesus: “Take and eat” (Matthew 26:26). Jesus calls not just followers, but those who will come and sit at his table.