At a retreat that gave for St Julie parishioners this past Lent on Eucharist, an expected question was asked, “ How can we eat the body of Christ and drink his blood and at the same time not be cannibals?” It was not the first time I had heard that question. The crowd in today’s gospel first asked it. “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” They stopped at asking, “Are we cannibals?” but that was what they meant.
On December 7, 1988 a devastating earthquake killed more than 55,000 people and injured thousands of people in Armenia, part of the then Soviet Union Republic. Susanna Petrosyan, a 30-year-old mother was buried alive under the debris of a building along with her 3-year-old daughter. The mother helped keep her 3-year-old child alive by feeding the tot her own blood during the eight days they were entombed. The mother apparently punctured each of her fingers repeatedly and had the child suck on them as a source of nourishment. When they were rescued, the child was found to be in good condition. We don’t call this child (now 30 years old) a cannibal because she fed on her mother. She was drinking the “living” blood of her mother.
Similarly, when we eat the flesh of Jesus and drink his blood in the Eucharist we are eating the living body and blood of Jesus. Moreover, at the last supper, Jesus linked his flesh with the bread he broke and shared it with his disciples. Likewise he linked is blood with the cup that passed around. Hence we don’t ask, “How can he give us his flesh to eat; and his blood to drink?”
Senses cannot grasp this marvel; faith must serve to compensate (St. Thomas Aquinas).
Feed on HIM and live.
– Fr. Abe