Life as a Feast of Faith

Editor’s Note: Reflection on the Mass readings for the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – Proverbs 9:1-6; Psalms 34:2-3, 10-11, 12-13, 14-; Ephesians 5:15-20; John 6:51-58. This series usually appears each Wednesday.

Photography © by Andy Coan

From time to time I run across sophisticated people who don’t, of course, believe in God, at least not in the way he’s represented by organized religion. But they are very happy that the hoi polloi, the vast crowd of ordinary people, do believe in God. For to them, religion promotes basic morality in society which is, of course, something we all want.

Sometimes I think that even churchgoers have this very low expectation of what it means to be a Christian. “Believe that God exists and that he’ll judge you when you die. Consequently, try to be a decent, fair sort of person. Send your kids to CCD so they get this message and stay out of serious trouble.”

This Sunday’s readings shatter this tame image of what Christianity is all about. Jesus did not come to make us decent, law-abiding citizens. He came that we may have life, and have it more abundantly (Jn 10:10). He does not want us just to exist. He wants us to live, to be bursting with vitality, even with divine life.

Our God, of course, realizes that such vitality can only be achieved with the appropriate nourishment. So Wisdom has set a table for us, a banquet table, full of the most delectable victuals imaginable (Prv 9:1-6). Actually, one table is not enough. He lays out for us two tables, the ambo and the altar. One provides an intellectual feast of the Word of God, to nourish, purify and inspire with words, deeds and images that have fed the imagination of artists and sages for two thousand years. The other table is laden with the sacramental feast of the Eucharist, the body and blood of Jesus Christ.

Wait a minute. Isn’t cannibalism contrary to nature? Yes, but that’s not what we are talking about here. This is a sacramental feast, where, mysteriously, we are really receiving into ourselves the perfect humanity and awesome divinity of Jesus Christ, but we are eating and drinking his true body, blood, soul and divinity under the forms of things we are used to consuming – bread and wine.

To drink blood, for the Jew, is forbidden, since all life belongs to God alone and the blood of animal contains its life. Christ, giving us his blood to drink under the sacramental form of wine, is pouring into our bodies and spirits his own immortal, invincible life. As often as we receive this sacrament, we are receiving a divine transfusion empowering us to live a supernatural sort of existence.

But this is not just an offer on the Lord’s part. It’s a requirement. “If you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” Why do Catholics have a Sunday obligation not just to say prayers at home but to go to Mass? Why must we fulfill our “Easter duty” and receive communion at least once a year? Because the Church, as a loving Mother, would be remiss if it did not insist on this bare minimum nourishment for her children, that they may have life.

But why just be satisfied with the minimum? In our second reading Paul exhorts us: “Make the most of the present opportunity” (Eph 5:15-20) Carpe Diem. Seize the day. Receive this revitalizing sacrament as often as the circumstances of your life allow. Receive it worthily, arriving at the Lord’s table “pre-prayered” and lingering after the meal in silent adoration, that you may properly digest the feast. Approach the Eucharist not as some glum duty, but as an awesome privilege, your mind filled not with distractions but with inspired songs of gratitude and joy. Eucharist, after all, is just the Greek word for thanksgiving. We receive the banquet so that our lives may truly be an ongoing festival of thanksgiving for the amazing blessings that God has hidden everywhere under the guise of quite ordinary people, places, and things.


Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio writes from Texas. For his resources on parenting and family life or information on his pilgrimages to Rome and the Holy Land, visit www.crossroadsinitiative.com or call 1.800.803.0118. This article originally appeared in Our Sunday Visitor and is reproduced here by permission of the author.


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About the Author

Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio writes from Texas. For his resources on parenting and family life or information on his pilgrimages to Rome and the Holy Land, visit www.crossroadsinitiative.com or call 1.800.803.0118.

Raised in Italian/Irish neighborhood in Providence, RI, Marcellino D’Ambrosio never thought about being anything else but Catholic. But like other Catholic teens, his faith was the last place he looked for fulfillment. Following in the footsteps of his parents, both professional performers in their single years, Marcellino set his sights on stardom, playing bass guitar in several popular rock bands by the time he was 16. At that time he encountered a group of Catholics whose Christian life was an exciting adventure, an adventure worth living for. So he laid his bass guitar aside and embarked on a road that led to a Ph.D. in historical theology from the Catholic University of America. His doctoral dissertation, written under the direction of the renowned Jesuit theologian, Avery Cardinal Dulles, focused on one of the theological lights of the Second Vatican Council, Henri Cardinal de Lubac, and his recovery of biblical interpretation of the early Church fathers.

His writing has been published in the international journal Communio, Abingdon’s Dictionary of Biblical Interpretation, the Tablet, Catholic Digest, Our Sunday Visitor, and Catholic News Service’s syndicated column "Faith Alive." His popular book, Exploring the Catholic Church and video course by the same name (known as Touching Jesus through the Church in the USA) have been used in hundreds of parishes all throughout the English speaking world. The Guide to the Passion: 100 Questions about the Passion of the Christ, of which he is co-author and co-editor, may prove to be the fastest-selling Catholic book of all time with over a million copies sold in less than three months.

Dr. D’Ambrosio, the father of five and a business owner, brings to his teaching a practical, down-to-earth perspective that makes his words easy to understand and put into practice. Audio and video recordings of his popular teaching are internationally distributed. He often appears on the international Eternal Word Television Network is regularly heard on the nationally syndicated radio show "Catholic Answers Live." Dr. D'Ambrosio has been a guest on Geraldo Rivera, At Large on FoxNews Channel, the Bill O'Reilly radio show and Radio America's news program Dateline: Washington.

In 2001 Dr. D’Ambrosio left his position at the University of Dallas to develop the work of Crossroads Productions, the apostolate of Catholic renewal and evangelization that he co-founded twenty years ago, and to more directly oversee the growth of Wellness Opportunities Group a company dedicated to helping people improve the quality of their lives physically, mentally, and financially. He, his wife Susan, and their five children, reside just outside of San Antonio, TX.

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