4 May 2017
The angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, ‘Be ready to set out at noon along the road that goes from Jerusalem down to Gaza, the desert road.’ So he set off on his journey. Now it happened that an Ethiopian had been on pilgrimage to Jerusalem; he was a eunuch and an officer at the court of the kandake, or queen, of Ethiopia, and was in fact her chief treasurer. He was now on his way home; and as he sat in his chariot he was reading the prophet Isaiah. The Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go up and meet that chariot.’ When Philip ran up, he heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ ‘How can I’ he replied ‘unless I have someone to guide me?’ So he invited Philip to get in and sit by his side. Now the passage of scripture he was reading was this:
Like a sheep that is led to the slaughter-house,
like a lamb that is dumb in front of its shearers,
like these he never opens his mouth.
He has been humiliated and has no one to defend him.
Who will ever talk about his descendants,
since his life on earth has been cut short!
The eunuch turned to Philip and said, ‘Tell me, is the prophet referring to himself or someone else?’ Starting, therefore, with this text of scripture Philip proceeded to explain the Good News of Jesus to him.
Further along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, ‘Look, there is some water here; is there anything to stop me being baptised?’ He ordered the chariot to stop, then Philip and the eunuch both went down into the water and Philip baptised him. But after they had come up out of the water again Philip was taken away by the Spirit of the Lord, and the eunuch never saw him again but went on his way rejoicing. Philip found that he had reached Azotus and continued his journey proclaiming the Good News in every town as far as Caesarea.
Jesus said to the crowd:
‘No one can come to me
unless he is drawn by the Father who sent me,
and I will raise him up at the last day.
It is written in the prophets:
They will all be taught by God,
and to hear the teaching of the Father,
and learn from it,
is to come to me.
Not that anybody has seen the Father,
except the one who comes from God:
he has seen the Father.
I tell you most solemnly,
everybody who believes has eternal life.
‘I am the bread of life.
Your fathers ate the manna in the desert
and they are dead;
but this is the bread that comes down from heaven,
so that a man may eat it and not die.
I am the living bread which has come down from heaven.
Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever;
and the bread that I shall give is my flesh,
for the life of the world.’
I am the bread of life
I recently attended a Christian wedding. After the couple were proclaimed ‘husband and wife’, the pastor announced that the couple would like to start their life as a wedded couple by partaking in Holy Communion. What a lovely way to begin their journey as a married couple!
The Minister then proceeded with the rite. As he presented the bread and wine, he said “This represents the Body of Christ”, “This represents the Blood of Christ”. That both surprised me and also filled me with so much gratitude for our Catholic faith. Why surprise and gratitude? Because it shows the marked difference between the Catholic and Protestant faith. In Catholicism, the bread and wine consecrated by the Priest, become the body and blood of Jesus Christ, meaning that Jesus is truly present on the altar. In the Protestant faith, the bread and wine are symbolic.
I have often been tickled by Archbishop’s jokes at retreats. He often tells this one — that once the priest consecrates the bread and wine – it actually is the body and blood of Christ. However, we have to truly believe that Christ is present in the Eucharist. Now if the host accidentally falls on the floor and a mouse consumes the host, does he become a holy mouse? Absolutely not, because for the mouse, it simply was a piece of bread.
We are indeed blessed to be able to receive the Holy Eucharist daily at mass. The body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ. Jesus is always available for us, offering us everlasting life. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world.
Do we, as Catholics, truly believe in His ever faithful presence? Or do we queue up every Sunday, whether we are in the right disposition or not, whether we have truly confessed our sins and received Holy Communion only to find that nothing has changed in our lives? Is it just a ritual for us? Brothers and sisters, when we receive Holy Communion, we are intimately united to Jesus. He becomes a part of us. Not symbolically, but truly present.
Brothers and sisters, if your heart is full of joy or even heavy with doubt – go to mass today and receive Christ. Go with a new disposition — with love and gratitude, a holy reverence and know that with Him in us – we are strengthened to carry the crosses in our lives today and every day.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)
Prayer: Lord Jesus, may we truly believe in your Holy Presence as we partake of the Eucharist. May we be truly present and grateful for this gift. Increase and sanctify the graces through personal union with You, the Giver of grace Himself. May our union with You increase our love for God and our neighbours.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus, for your immense love for us. Giving us your body and blood – food for the soul. Food that refreshes us, nourishes us, food that satisfies a hungry soul.