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Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ A ~ "I AM" ~ Dr. Susan McGurgan



Living Bread.

Living Father.

Living forever.


The discussion of living Bread

in the Gospel of John

comes smack in the middle

of Jesus’ life and ministry

not at the end as he faces death.

Life—

abundant, exuberant, fruitful life—

is a theme that surfaces

time and time again in this Gospel.

John discusses the miracles of Jesus

as signs—

signs that unveil

the glory and power of God.


This focus on life

is also a sign—

a recurring invitation

to pay attention and learn.


Throughout his public ministry,

Jesus celebrates fulfillment.

He celebrates life in God

as something immediate and near—

something we can encounter here and now.

It is not simply a dream

far off in the future,

or a privilege

reserved for the favored few.

.

For Jesus,

this in-between time

between God’s promise

and God’s fulfillment;

between the incarnation and eternity;

between His coming to dwell among us,

and His coming at the end times—

this is not a time for paralyzing fear.

It’s not an evil to endure

or a trial to overcome.


It can be a time of brokenness and sin,

of pain and suffering and death,

but it is so much more.

It is also a time of richness and grace—

a time of hope and joy and purpose.

It is a time of encounter.

It is a time to lean into the Kingdom,

which has already begun to bubble up

in the most surprising places

and among the most surprising people.


Jesus consistently teaches

that the Kingdom of God

is growing and expanding

like yeast in bread,

like seeds sprouting deep in the soil,

like a mustard tree

offering shelter and shade.

The Kingdom will be fulfilled in eternity,

but in the meantime,

the Good News is here.


Over and over, Jesus shows us

that God’s living presence

is already with us.

At the wedding feast in Cana,

new wine flowed,

not by the glass or by the pitcher,

but by the gallons.


On a hillside in Judea,

a hungry crowd was fed

with food that multiplied,

instead of diminished.


At a well in Samaria,

a thirsty woman

received the promise of living water,

rushing in a never-ending stream.


When the Jewish people were enslaved

and their bodies and spirits broke

under the command to make bricks

for Pharoah’s kingdom,

God promised them a different Kingdom,

and led them from bondage into freedom.


God heard their cry of pain and suffering,

and answered, “I am who I am” (Exod 3:14)


I am.


Jesus takes this name as his own.

I am the living bread.

I am the way.

I am the truth.

I am the light.


I Am.


The Hebrew verb, “I am”

is not abstract.

It does not indicate mere existence.

It expresses something active and present.

Perhaps we should think of this name,

not as “I Am,”

but “I Am Present.” (1)


I Am Present.


I am present beside you

in the brickyard of Pharoah.

I am present in the desert,

leading you from bondage to freedom.

I am present in the life of Jesus

and in the mighty signs and miracles.

I am present in his broken body,

in the cup that overflows

in the waters that never run dry.

I am present in the community,

even when you lose heart and forget the way.


I Am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.


It’s hard, though—

or at least it should be hard

to speak of living bread and banquets

and water that never runs dry

in a world where each day—

each day--

women and girls spend 200 million hours walking

to collect water for their families,

often finding only polluted water

and stagnant ponds.

That is 8.3 million days.

22,800 years.

Every.

Single.

Day. (2)


It’s hard—

or at least it should be hard

to grasp for an overflowing cup

and eat our fill of living bread

when 828 million people in the world

have empty plates and emptier stomachs.

When 42 million Americans go to bed hungry.

When 1 in 7 children

right around the corner from our Church

don’t have enough to eat. (3)


Yet,

there is more than enough food produced in the world

to feed everyone on the planet.

There are ways to provide clean water

and a better life.

What we have is not a crisis of bread and water,

but a crisis of heart and will.


I AM Present.


We cannot personally believe Scripture’s

promise of living bread from heaven—

we cannot believe God’s people

were delivered from bondage—

that water gushed from the flinty rock

and poured over parched and thirsty ground,

without also setting our face

and our feet

towards those millions in our world

who have neither water nor bread.


We cannot personally accept Christ

without also declaring with the Lord,

“I too, Am Present.”


This passage from John

takes our hearts and minds

directly to the Eucharist

where Jesus reassures us,

“I AM Present.”


On the altar of that Eucharistic feast,

we meet the suffering poor.

And in the faces of the suffering poor,

we encounter Christ,

who is Bread for the world.

“The Eucharist commits us to the poor.

To receive the Body and Blood of Christ

given up for us,

we must recognize Christ

in the poorest of his brethren.” (4)


Because God is “I AM,”

We are, too.


We are present.




1 Sigmund Mowinckel, “The Name of the God of Moses,” HUCA 32 (1961), 127.

4 Catechism of the Catholic Church 1397


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