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Jesus: Our Friend and Our Food

The truth of the Holy Eucharist is one we need to do a better job of sharing with others. This must be an integral element of our efforts in the new evangelization.

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A few years ago, I would regularly see a billboard on I-94 near Detroit Metropolitan Airport that had a picture of a woman holding a chicken. The woman and the chicken were nose-to-beak, looking into each other’s eyes in a seemingly meaningful sort of way. The billboard was posted by an animal-rights group, and its caption read, “Animals are friends, not food.”

The Letter to the Hebrews tells us that Jesus “‘for a little while’ was made ‘lower than the angels’” (2:9), but according to the view expressed on that billboard we could say that Jesus has made Himself even lower than the chickens. I hope this doesn’t sound irreverent, but I say it as a small illustration of both the pretensions of the world and of the unbelievable humility of Jesus. “Unbelievable,” except that it’s true, and so we must believe it. Our faith tells us the truth that the Lord Jesus, Son of God and the King of heaven and earth, the Lamb of God, the Alpha and the Omega has chosen to become for us our Friend and our Food in the Holy Eucharist.

First, Jesus comes to us in the Eucharist as our Friend. One of the hallmark characteristics of a friend is that he or she is someone who is there for you. No matter what we may believe about how our friendships can endure even when we are separated from our friends by space and time, I think we all can agree that it is better for friends to be together. And we would probably agree that even friendships that endure separation can do so because the friends have already spent a significant amount of time together.

At the Last Supper, when Jesus first gave Himself in the Eucharist to His disciples, He said to them, “I have called you friends” (John 15:15). In the Eucharist, we meet Jesus our Friend because the Eucharist is Jesus: Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.

Recent Pew Research data tells us that a shrinking percentage of Catholics, only about one-third, fully believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. This is a tragedy not because the Church isn’t meeting some kind of corporate outcomes-assessment, and certainly not because it hurts God, but rather because so many Catholics don’t know the treasure we have in our Eucharistic Lord. They do not recognize that in the Sacrifice of the Mass, the bread and wine are “transubstantiated” (their substances are changed) into the Body and Blood of Christ, with only the appearances of bread and wine remaining.

Disbelieving Catholics don’t understand that the Eucharist is the direct and concrete fulfillment of Jesus’ promise, “I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). The greatest Friend we will ever have or could ever have makes Himself available to us, even slavishly available to us. We are the slaves of God (meaning we belong to God), St. Paul tells us (Romans 6:18), but Jesus waits for our attention as if the roles were reversed and He were our slave.

Sometimes people create a false contrast between the sacramental life of the Church and what they call a “personal relationship with Jesus.” While certainly it is possible for Catholics to approach the sacraments in a cold and mechanistic way, the sacraments themselves are as personal as it gets! What could be more personal than to worship and even to receive into yourself the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of the Son of God? To spend time with Jesus, to speak with him face-to-face—to paraphrase St. John Vianney, we look at Him and He looks at us—and to allow Him to transform us into Himself, from the inside-out—what could be more personal that this? What closer friendship could there be than this?

Second, Jesus comes to us in the Eucharist as our Food. Christ’s Bread of Life Discourse in John 6 very clearly makes this point. Jesus reveals Himself as the Bread of Life, our “food for the journey” to heaven.

“I am the living bread that came 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.”

…and…

“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.”

The manna in the desert made it possible for the Israelites to march for 40 years after leaving Egypt, until they reached the Promised Land. The Bread of Life is the perfect Manna, the Bread from heaven that brings us through life and death to resurrection and heaven. The life Jesus gives us is a life we could never get in any other way: divine, supernatural, eternal, and indestructible life.

There was a lot of talk several years ago about whether medicine would ever advance to the point that man became, practically speaking, immortal. I don’t read much about that quest anymore, but the truth is that immortal life has been here for the receiving all along.

What Jesus offers is the nourishment that will make our lives indestructible and radiant with divinity. Our appetites may crave quicker pleasures and satisfaction, but that is a problem with our appetites. Objectively speaking, we could never have anything better than what we receive in Holy Communion.

The truth of the Holy Eucharist is one we need to do a better job of sharing with others. This must be an integral element of our efforts in the new evangelization.

Many people think of the Mass as “boring” and even if they go somewhere to worship on Sunday they say they want to “go where they’re fed.” I’m not abdicating our responsibility to do all that we can, to give our very best, to engage people in the Mass, but in even the most humble Mass there is Food that cannot be compared with anything else on earth. There is a Friend Who will pursue us to the ends of the earth, but still needs for us at some point to turn and come to meet Him. There is a life promised in the Mass that cannot be crafted by human ingenuity, even that of the most ingenious and industrious of ministers.

These blessings can only come from God, and we must do all in our power to help others come and receive this Gift of heaven.


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About Fr. Charles Fox 26 Articles
Rev. Charles Fox is an assistant professor of theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit. He holds an S.T.D. in dogmatic theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum), Rome.

6 Comments

  1. Fr Fox hits the nail on the head in his article.The saving grace that is available to us with the Eucharist at Mass.It is the most beautiful gift our God gives us through his son Jesus Christ.Our Master,our Lord,and our Friend.It is a pity so many Catholics have lost their way to this freeing sacrament & rest

  2. “A few years ago, I would regularly see a billboard on I-94 near Detroit Metropolitan Airport that had a picture of a woman holding a chicken. The woman and the chicken were nose-to-beak, looking into each other’s eyes in a seemingly meaningful sort of way. The billboard was posted by an animal-rights group, and its caption read, “Animals are friends, not food.”

    **************
    If those animal rights folks had more experience with chickens they’d know that would be a risky thing to do. Chickens will peck at anything shiny, including your eyes. They will also happily pick an injured or weaker chicken to death.
    I’ve raised chickens since I was a little girl & I enjoy them, but realistically, chickens act like little feathered velociraptors if given half a chance.

  3. That sign from the animal-rights group mentioned in the article aims to sentimentally elicit compassion against using chickens (or any other animals) as food just because they could become our pet friends. That is just another devious demonstration of Deviant Satanic Animalism, as an exaggerated, obsessive, dehumanizing attachment to irrational animals, making us in effect profoundly, infinitely more irrational, beastly, blind and cruel than they could ever be.

    It’s a return to ancient Egypt’s paganism where their gods where animal-human hybrids. The results are easy to see: the more animalism, the less truly human we become and unborn and born human babies become trash to be discarded, our genetic, celular, scientifically verifiable male and female genders become “imaginary social constructs”, etc., etc. Total “intelectually superior” insanity! If radical environmentalism and animal-rights activists are so “right”, why Adam, completely surrounded by fascinating, friendly, loving animals and all astounding, pure Nature (the very paradise activists so intensely want and preach) decided to ask for “one like him” way before any Original Sin and its corresponding lusts showed up?

    I dearly love my rescued cats and have been consistently blessed for long decades (I’m old) with those with much higher than average intelligence, sweet constant affection, good behavior, loyalty, sensitivity and also sweet support in my days of affliction. Some tell me that animals directly reflect and reveal their owners true character and personality. I know that to be true, but rather than take that as a compliment, I take it as a verification that my growth toward the fullness of the character of Christ through the Holy Eucharist (Ephesians 4:13) is going well and reflected indirectly on my animals, not them on me, as it should be. We are to lead, not animals to lead us. Despicable, criminal and heinous as some humans can CHOOSE to be, all of Creation is to follow us as we follow Christ, so that all Creation can be Redeemed in the Eucharistic Infinitely Marvelous Supreme Lord!!! (Romans 8:22). That’s what “the father” of God’s enemies wants to stop (John 8:44).

  4. Very well stated. I was hoping though, that somewhere before this piece ended, you would mention the sacrilege of receiving Jesus in the Eucharist if you do not believe and if you are not in a state of grace.
    Many Catholics do not believe because no one preaches on this topic, nor mentions the graces gained in receiving worthily and the sin on receiving unworthily.

  5. (I leave it to the Moderators here to join this to my previous comment or as a separate comment) I had to write this because it hit me at bedtime like a loaded semi truck at full speed. Deviant Satanic Animalism from animal-rights and also environmental activists, etc. is not just custom designed to defame, corrupt and destroy our God-given true and unique human nature, true genders and all true sanity and intelligence, but also to destroy our faith in the Full and Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist!!!

    It shows directly, clearly and graphically in that, as Fr. Charles Fox says, only one third of Catholics believe in it. That’s a catastrophe! That is not a “social construct”, slander, etc. It is by DESIGN!! The more dehumanized we become through Animalism/animal-rights/environmentalism/abortion/etc., the less and less we will believe in the One God who became Man and became Living Bread for us. Unconsciously, if we lose our faith in us being unique God-created creatures in God”s image and likeness, very far above mere irrational animals, the less and less we’ll believe that Jesus ever incarnated in an “inferior”, “despicable”, “deplorable” human being and that His Divinity and HUMANITY are truly present in the Eucharist. As we continue to devalue humans, we totally devalue the Creator and His Son.

    No wonder the present Pope is so committed to radical environmentalism. It’s not about saving animals or nature but about destroying the Very Holy Core and Source of Power in our Holy Catholic Faith, the Eucharist. Only one third of us believe!! No wonder we are so weak and falling back!! Animalism must be obliterated and the faith in the Eucharist restored at all and any costs or the world and us are truly doomed!!

  6. ” but in even the most humble Mass there is Food that cannot be compared with anything else on earth.”

    So true, its all about relationship, you can be happy with the beloved in a tent, you can be happy with the beloved in a palace, its all about love, amen.

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