Step #1: Lectio / Read
Click the link below or open your Bible to the passage and read through the reading at least once, paying attention to what is happening in the text.
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
Use the following meditation to help you reflect more deeply on the Scripture (you may want to read the passage again).
In our faith we have the practice of benediction at the end of Eucharistic adoration, which starts with the invocation of some famous words we probably all know well: “Down in adoration falling, this great Sacrament we hail.” Near the end of this verse penned by St. Thomas Aquinas we reach a profound statement that we often sing, but perhaps may not fully internalize: “Faith will tell us Christ is present, when our human senses fail.”
As Catholics, we know that the Eucharist is supposed to be the Body and Blood of Christ. We are taught this wonderful truth year after year in school or in PSR/CCD or in Confirmation classes and most of all get to come face-to-face with this reality every Sunday at Mass. Yet, our human senses fail us and those words of Christ in today’s Gospel seem unbelievable, just as much as they were to those hearing him in real time: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever…Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.”
This is a hard saying. The Jews fought over this saying. Many of His disciples walked away after hearing it (John 6:66). Faced with the reality of what the Eucharist is, we must continually remind ourselves of what Jesus has promised to give us in the Eucharist: His very self! Not as just a symbol or tradition, but as a sacrament, a sign that actually makes present what it signifies. Through bread and wine we can eat and drink, Jesus gives us Himself. The flesh and blood given up and poured out for us is made present for us. Why? Because God wants to remain with us always and wants us to have an absolute and sure sign so as to make present that He is there, what He did through the Son was real, and we get to live in the glory and joy of that for as long as we walk this earth by receiving Him into our very being. And what a joy this is, that God gives Himself so clearly to us! We do not have to wonder, but can know He is with us. And not only that, but loves us so dearly as to want to be a part of us, our nourishment for this life and heavenly bread for the journey.
This reality is central to our Catholic faith, and believe you me could not be done justice in a 500 word reflection. Furthermore, I am by no means close to having advanced knowledge on how to explain and contemplate the Eucharist. In a certain sense, this great mystery cannot be contained into words, that God so loved us that He would craft a means of salvation so that we could receive His very self in our being. We sit, reflect, contemplate, and remember that regardless of how we may feel about it, what emotions are driving us, if Mass seems boring or the music is bad or the usher is mean, if we are distracted and unable to focus, Jesus is still present in that Eucharist. Fully present, fully available, fully ready to give Himself to you.
In this most Holy and Blessed Sacraments, faith will tell us Christ is present when our human senses fail.
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
These questions are to be used to talk to God; have a conversation with the Lord about these questions and what is going on in your heart as you pray today.
In what ways do you recognize Christ when you are at Mass on Sunday? In what ways is it difficult?
When you think of Jesus' words in today's Gospel, and the mystery of the Eucharist, what do you think it truly means? Take some time to ponder those things and let God speak that mystery into your heart.
How can you present yourself to God at Mass and in life more fully, just as he presents himself to you in the Eucharist at every Mass?
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
In this step, you listen. Stop talking, let God speak to your heart. You may repeat one of these short phrases to focus your mind on the Lord.
"You are the bread of life."
"You are true food."
"You are true drink."
Step #5: Actio / Act
In light of today's reading and your time spent in prayer with the Lord, what concrete action or actions will you take to let this encounter with the Lord bear fruit in you today?
Do some spiritual reading on the Eucharist. Start with the Catechism Paragraph 1322 (you can find it online if you click here) or pick up a good Catholic book on the Eucharist and let God speak to you about the truth and depth of this great Sacrament.
Smartphone Lock Screen
The following image is here for you to save and use as a background or lock screen on your smartphone or device to help you carry today's Lectio Divina with you the rest of the day.
Today's prayer was prepared by Matthew Maxwell, a graduate of Franciscan University and currently working as a Youth Minister in St. Louis.
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