Our Intimate Life in God

"Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in them" (John 6:55).

If you have seen the TV ads for "Ancestry," a company that can take a saliva sample and reveal your genetic identity, you are on  track to understand something of the mystery we celebrate as the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. It begins with the truth that as human beings we are all one species, linked together by our human ancestry. Along with our shared blood, human beings also represent a great river of shared elements that make up the human body. We are of one flesh, and amazingly each generation recycles the same chemistry that forms our carbon-based structure to make new human bodies out of old ones.

We believe that Jesus entered that river of life and shared fully in our human identity, his body and blood partaking of the common source of the universal human family. But something happened to the human family because of him, a leap from the old creation of the first Adam to a new creation suffused with glory. By his self-sacrifice on the cross, Jesus defeated our old nature, held captive by sin -- alienation from God -- by embracing it and taking it with him into death. By his resurrection, Jesus revealed a new transformed human nature. 

Jesus is the new Adam, the pioneer of the new creation, an older brother to all those who make this same leap by baptism into a new human destiny -- life with God.  The risen Christ is also a risen body, and we share in this new body by our participation in the Eucharist. When we share the cup and break the bread with the other members of the Body of Christ at Mass, we are being nourished by the body of blood of Christ. We are already being formed with a new ancestry, a divine identity that Jesus makes possible. 

We share in his body and blood now in a sacramental way, that is, by believing that the bread and wine we share is a visible sign of a hidden reality. Our Communion is an encounter with the living Christ, the risen body of Jesus in glory. His divine fullness is poured out in us through his Holy Spirit. What we consume we become. His transformation is transforming us from our old nature to our new nature, perfected by grace. Imagine at each Communion that you are receiving a transfusion of the glorified blood of Jesus, or that you are experiencing a kind of spiritual dialysis, a purification of your old self by this intimate union with Jesus.  

Another approach to this intimacy is to think of a very special meal in your life when the food you shared was only a glimpse of the union you experienced in conversation with a beloved friend, a lover, a spouse, a guest who changed your life with their words, the beauty of their face as they gazed at you with love.  Ordinary flesh and blood cannot reveal this dimension of communion, but the shared spirit can.  This is the leap of faith that changes everything, that makes us a new creation in Christ.