The reading we hear in today’s Gospel is part of the Bread of Life discourse from the Gospel of John. In the past week, I gave a presentation to the parents of the children who will be receiving first holy communion and led a discussion with the neophytes in the RCIA program about discipleship. Both of those presentations talked about the centrality of the Eucharist in our Catholic faith. And the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel that we hear today does such a great job of giving us a solid foundation in our belief in the Eucharist. In fact, I recommend reading this chapter of John's Gospel to any Christian who wants to understand the Scriptural basis for our belief in the Eucharist. We can only imagine how radical it was for those Jews to hear Jesus tell them that they were to eat his flesh and drink his blood and that this would be true food and true drink for them on their journey.
One of the greatest honors I have as a priest is to give a person his first communion. Looking in the eyes at the moment can say so much, more than words could. How important is the Eucharist to us in our lives of faith? Is it something we long for? Or is it just another something we fit into our schedule? I know what the answer is for those of you here at daily mass. I know the Eucharist is important to you and you make it a priority in your busy lives. How can we transmit that message to others?