Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus declares that he is the bread of life and promises eternal life to all who believe in him.
Many of the Church Fathers characterized the Eucharist as food that immortalizes those who consume it. They understood that if Christ is really present in the Eucharistic elements, the one who eats and drinks the Lord’s Body and Blood becomes configured to Christ in a far more than metaphorical way. The Eucharist, they concluded, Christifies and hence eternalizes.
If the Eucharist were no more than a symbol, this kind of language would be so much nonsense. But if the doctrine of the Real Presence is true, then this literal eternalization of the recipient of Communion must be maintained.
But what does this transformation practically entail? It implies that the whole of one’s life—body, psyche, emotions, spirit—becomes ordered to the eternal dimension. The Christified person knows that his life is not finally about him but about God; the Eucharistized person understands that her treasure is to be found above and not below. Wealth, pleasure, power, honor, success, titles, degrees, even friendships and family connections are all relativized as the high adventure of life with God opens up.