To open up his Gospel, St. John writes; “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (1:1).” He goes on to say; “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father (1:14).” Jesus is the light of the world that shines in the darkness. How do we see and feel His presence in our life.
For a non- Catholic Christian who practices and sees his faith coming primarily from the written word of God, he might believe that Jesus’ presence is most felt and is found in Scripture. And from what he knows to be true, he is correct. Receiving Jesus spiritually in Scripture is great, but it is by no means the only way we can experience Jesus in a profound way.
For a Catholic Christian, we also receive Jesus in the sacraments of the Church, most especially in the Holy Eucharist. “So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever (John 6:53-58).” We receive Jesus in a tangible way through the Eucharist. The whole substance of Jesus enters our body. We receive Jesus’ body, blood soul and divinity in this sacrament. It is the most intimate way we can receive Jesus!
Have you ever heard someone say that “I’m not being feed at my Church?” What does that mean for the Catholic person who leaves the Church and joins a protestant denomination (who’s main focus is the Bible)? Someone who feels his life has changed because he found Jesus more profoundly in Scripture. Well, when a person actually starts to study and pray over the Scriptures, he naturally feels a deepening in his relationship with Christ. The question I would ask that person is “Why didn’t you take an interest in studying the Scriptures while you were in the Catholic Church?” My guess is that the same thing would have happened.
I was one of those people who grew up Catholic, but didn’t realize what I had until I was practicing my Christian faith in another Faith Tradition. After actually opening up my Bible and receiving Jesus’ word through study and an openness to hear what God was saying to me, I deepened my spiritual relationship with Christ. But I also felt I was missing something (that tangible connection). Finally I realized it was the Holy Eucharist and the sanctifying (life-giving) grace that came along with it. Even though the denomination I was practicing my faith in at the time seemed to skip over many passages of the Bible (such as John ch. 6), I knew where to find them. It was then that I came back to the Catholic faith with a hunger to receive Jesus more fully!
Jesus is found in both Scripture and the Holy Eucharist, but in different ways. It is not an (either/or) proposition. It is a (both/and) proposition. If someone is not Catholic, just know that receiving the “bread of life that came down from heaven” in the Eucharist, along with Scripture, will enhance and bring a fullness to your relationship with Jesus. And for the Catholic who receives Jesus only in the Holy Eucharist, if you study and pray over Scripture, your relationship with Jesus will only get stronger.
Until next time, God bless.