The Hidden Experience of Jesus

Jeremiah R. Grosse
Reproduced with Permission

Once again the people are murmuring against Jesus. This time the murmuring stems from the fact that Jesus said, "I am the bread that came down from heaven." These people are convinced that they know everything about Jesus. After all, they know his parents and all of his relatives.

While we have not met Jesus face to face, the fact is that many people are convinced that they know someone because they have seen an actor or actress on television. For example, if Sam Waterston, who plays Jack McCoy on Law and Order, were to get arrested for drunk driving it should not surprise any of us if we heard someone say, "Jack McCoy would never do that!" Well, that is very true. Jack McCoy cannot do anything that is not written into the script; however, Sam Waterston is not Jack McCoy.

Jesus tells the people to stop murmuring and then informs them that no one can come to Him unless they are drawn by the Father who sent Him. He goes to speak of Himself as the living bread that came down from Heaven and however eats this bread will live forever. This is an extraordinary claim. We offer God bread and wine and are asked to accept that it is not simply bread and wine we see, but Jesus Himself.

The central celebration of the Christian life, the Eucharist, is also the greatest test of faith. "Faced with the power of this sacrament", says Baldwin of Ford, a 12th Century Cistercian monk, "the mind is dulled, the eye of reason is darkened, and every sense of the body is blunted." It is in this arena in which faith and reason go together. This they do that one might gouge out the other's eye, and there is no end to the combat until one of them is blinded. Human reason has its eye and so does faith, but the eye of reason is dim-sighted and often cannot see things which are visible and placed near it. The eye of faith; however, is keen and with it the visible things of God are clearly seen.

One question which reason may pose is: Why is it that the body and blood of Christ remains concealed by the appearances of bread and wine? In answer to this question, Baldwin of Ford would state that Christ was hidden from the beginning in the bosom of the Father; afterwards, He was hidden in the form of a servant which He assumed; and now He is hidden in the sacrament which He instituted. Faith finds Him hidden in the bosom of the Father; no less does faith find Him hidden in man; and it is faith which finds Him hidden in the sacrament.

What a wonderful gift we have been given by Our Lord Jesus. He gave us His very flesh to eat and His very blood to drink as food for the journey as we make our way to our Heavenly homeland. It is through our reception of Holy Communion we are connected not only to the Lord Jesus, but to each other as well. It is this deep connection which inspires us to reach out to others and bring the Good News to them through our words and actions.