1999 June/Feeding the Beloved


He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood, abideth in Me, and I in him. St. Denis, the Areopagite, says that love always tends towards union with the object beloved. And because food becomes one thing with him who eats it, therefore our Lord would reduce himself to food, in order that, receiving him in Holy Communion, we might become of one substance with him: Take ye and eat, said Jesus; this is My body. As if he had said, remarks St. John Chrysostom, “Eat Me, that the highest union may take place.” O man, feed thyself on Me, in order that thou and I may become one substance. In the same way, says St. Cyril of Alexandria, as two pieces of melted wax unite together, so a soul that communicates is so thoroughly united to Jesus – that Jesus remains in it, and it in Jesus. O my beloved Redeemer, exclaims, therefore, St. Laurence Justinian, how wouldst Thou ever come to love us so much that Thou wouldst unite Thyself to us in such a way that Thy heart and ours should become but one heart? “Oh, how admirable is Thy love. O Lord Jesus, who wouldst incorporate us in such a manner with Thy body, that we should have but one heart with Thee.”

Well did St. Francis de Sales say, in speaking of Holy Communion: “In no action does our Saviour show himself more loving or more tender than in this one, in which, as it were, he annihilates himself and reduces himself to food in order to penetrate our souls, and unite himself to the hearts of his faithful ones.” So that, says St. John Chrysostom, “To that Lord on whom the angels even dare not fix their eyes, to him we unite ourselves, and we are made one body, one flesh.” “But what shepherd,” adds the saint, “feeds the sheep with his own blood? Even mothers give their children to nurses to feed them; text Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament feeds us with his own blood, and unites us to himself. What shepherd feeds his sheep with his own blood? And why do I say shepherd? There are many mothers who give their children to others to nurse; but this he has not done, but feeds us with his own blood.” In short, says the saint, because he loves us so ardently, he chose to make himself one with us by becoming our food. “He mixed himself with us, that we might be one; this they do whose love is ardent.”