daily biblical sermons


AS CHRIST LIVES BECAUSE OF THE FATHER, SO WE WILL LIVE BECAUSE OF CHRIST
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Friday, Third Week of Easter, May 05, 2017
Acts 9:1-20, Psalm 116, John 6:52-59


Scripture quotations are from the RSV unless otherwise noted.

 

"As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me" (John 6:57).


Here Jesus is clearly speaking of the Eucharist. At the Last Supper he said over the bread, "This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me" (Luke 22:19), and over the wine he said, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Matthew 26:28).


Jesus is the sacrificial victim offered to the Father on the cross in our place to satisfy divine law on our behalf, because of our sins, to reconcile us with God and cancel our just debt with him. Jesus' death paid our debt with the Father for our sins, that is, our debt of punishment that in justice we owed God for our sins, so that an all-just God could justly forgive us. Christ's death on the cross paid this debt for us and thereby won for us eternal life. Our part in this is to believe in the Son. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).


At the Last Supper Jesus gave us a sacramental ritual which we are to repeat in remembrance of him, and more specifically in remembrance of his death that saved us. He said, "This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me" (Luke 22:19), and St. Paul said, "As often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes" (1 Corinthians 11:26).


So we celebrate the Eucharist daily in remembrance of Christ's death that reconciles us with God and justifies us, making us righteous in his sight. And in this ritual of remembrance, Christ's one sacrifice of himself on the cross for our salvation is made present for us. His body and blood are offered in sacrifice to the Father in the Holy Spirit for the honor and glory of God and the salvation of the world.


But Jesus also wanted us to be profoundly united to him by eating his body and drinking his blood in Holy Communion during the celebration of the Eucharist. This is what he is speaking about today in this final section of his eucharistic discourse. So today he says, "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me" (John 6:56-57).


Jesus wants to give us a participation in the life of the Trinity. By eating his body and drinking his blood, he is in us, and we are in him. "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him" (John 6:56). This is important, because Jesus is in the Father, and the Father is in him. "Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me?" (John 14:10).


So if the Father is in Jesus and through faith and through the Eucharist Jesus is in us, then the Father is in us. The visible man Jesus thus unites us intimately with God. So if Jesus dwells in us by our faith in him, then the Father also dwells in us.


Jesus sacramentalizes his body and blood in the form of bread and wine so that we can eat and drink them during the sacrifice of the Mass, which is his sacrifice on the cross made present for us. In doing so, Christ is in us. But since the Father is in him and he is in the Father, then the Father who is in Christ enters into us when Christ physically and sacramentally enters into us in Holy Communion during our offering of the sacrifice of the Mass.


So now we live in the time when God the Father is within us, because Christ in his sacramentalized body and blood is within us. We are therefore intimately united to God through receiving Holy Communion.


Jesus tells us that soon this world will see him no more, but we who believe in him will see him. We will see him within us through faith and through the Eucharist. "Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more, but you will see me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you" (John 14:19-20).


Christ is in the Father, and we are in Christ; therefore we are also in the Father through him, through our union with him, especially in receiving him in the Eucharist.


Now Jesus says, "As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me" (John 6:57). Jesus' very life is because of the Father. He draws life from the Father. He spends whole nights in prayer with the Father to draw life from him, to commune with him. In the same way, "he who eats me will live because of me" (John 6:57). We are to draw life from Jesus, as he draws life from his Father. "And from his [Christ's] fullness have we all received, grace upon grace" (John 1:16).


As Jesus received life from the fullness of the Father, grace upon grace, so Jesus has been sent to us so that he might be our source of divine life so that we could draw from his fullness, grace upon grace.


So as Jesus lives because of and through the Father, we live because of and through Jesus. Jesus materially and sacramentally mediates the Father to us. If we eat him, we live because of him - "So he who eats me will live because of me" (John 6:57).


"Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more, but you will see me; because I live, you will live also" (John 14:19). We live only because he lives. That is, we live in this deepest sense, united to God, only because Christ lives, for he mediates to us this union with God. So "because I live, you will live also" (John 14:19).


If we are energized spiritually by Christ in us through faith and through the Eucharist, then we will know by experience that the Christ, who is in us through Holy Communion energizing us, gets his energizing power by being in the Father, and by the Father being in him. When we experience this, then, "in that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you" (John 14:20). In short, we should live through Jesus who dwells within us. His presence in us, especially through the Eucharist, should be the source of our inner life with God.


St. John tells us this very clearly, "In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him" (1 John 4:9). It is not by our own resources that we now live as Christians. We do not live simply as natural men, but as people raised to a new and supernatural life by our faith in Christ and by his presence within us through our faith and especially through the Eucharist. We "live through him" (John 4:9).


Because he lives, we live also (John 14:19). We live because of him, as he lives because of the Father. "As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me" (John 6:57).


Basically the mystery is this: the Father is in Christ, and Christ is in us. The glory that Christ has from the Father, he gives to us, and he himself enters us. "The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and thou in me" (John 17:22-23).

 

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