We use a couple of words to talk about the Body and Blood of Christ; Eucharist and Communion. Each tell us something important about what it is to us, and both tell us about how we participate in the sacrifice that Jesus made for us on the cross.
by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14b-16a
Not by bread alone does one live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD.
Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
1 Corinthians 10:16-17
Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.
“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.”
You can read the full text of this Sunday’s readings here:
We refer to the Body and Blood of Christ as Eucharist and Communion. Eucharist means “thanksgiving.” When we celebrate Mass, we fulfill the command in today’s first reading; to “…not forget the LORD, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery…” and to remember that God, “fed you with manna” when the Jewish people wandered through the desert. We are still wandering, in a way, as we make our way through life. We are hungry and need food on the journey; and we need to remember who feeds us. We respond to God’s care with thanksgiving–with gratitude.
We speak of “Communion,” which is an expression of our unity with God and one another that can only come from sharing in Jesus’ Body and Blood. This is a response to the second reading, as Paul tells the Corinthians that, “we, though many, are one body” because Jesus feeds us with his body. We “become what we receive,” as St. Augustine says, when we allow the Communion to take root in us, and we choose to live in line with Jesus’ teachings.
The Gospel tells us that when Jesus made his sacrifice on the cross, he offered himself for our sins, and that he became nourishment for us–spiritually and bodily. He is the Bread that came down from Heaven–the manna in the desert was a glimpse into the future of what God would do for his people in Jesus. We receive the Eucharist believing that what we take into our bodies is truly the Presence of God.
Can you think of a time that you were very hungry? Who fed you? How did it make you feel to finally get that food? How did it taste?
If we acknowledge in gratitude that God has given us everything we have, and if we want to be united to Jesus and our community by following Jesus’ teachings, what difference should receiving Eucharist make in our lives? How should we, who take Jesus into ourselves, live differently than others? How can we be more like Christ? Also, what types of hunger do people experience (spiritual, physical, emotional…)? How can participating in Christ make you aware of the hunger of others? How can you respond to it?
Tell your family about what receiving Communion has meant to you throughout your life. Has it changed over the years? This could also be a really good time to reflect on hunger. Many people in our country, and all over the world, go to bed hungry every night–mostly children. What is something your family could do to participate in the life of Christ to alleviate the hunger of others?
A little lectio
The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for Kids to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.
A little Bible study
Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:
- During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
- Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
- Take a look at the context for the readings—what happens before, or after?
- Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
- If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)
For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.
The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever.”