The Eucharist and the Resurrection

Friends in Christ, in today’s Gospel, Our Lord is beginning his famous ‘Bread of Life’ discourse, and we will be reading it over the next few days.  Jesus says, ‘I am the Bread of Life;’  he will go on to teach about the Holy Eucharist, that it is truly his Flesh and Blood.
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So why during the Easter Season, does Mother church have us read this? Well, in this discourse, Our Lord will, multiple times link the Holy Eucharist with the Resurrection. 8 times Jesus will speak of the Resurrection and of Eternal Life – and incidentally, the number ‘8’ is the symbol for the Resurrection, 8 times he says it. Our Lord is connecting our eating of the Holy Eucharist with our own Resurrection.
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During the first week of the Easter Season, we read about the appearances of the Resurrected Lord to the Apostles, and these appearances had Eucharistic over-tones. He comes to Thomas on Sunday – the primary day of the Eucharist – and he says, ‘Thomas, touch me, see that I am really here,’ bodily. In the same way, on Sunday, the Church gathers and in fact, Jesus IS really there, and in the Sacrament we touch him.
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It was on Sunday, that Our Lord met his disciples on the Road to Emmaus. There they finally recognized him in the Breaking of the Bread. So Our Lord connects the resurrection – his and ours – to Holy Communion.
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The Church teaches that when we receive Holy Communion, we are receiving the Risen Christ. This Risen Christ is able to be in many places at the same time; scripture says that he once appeared to over 500 disciples at the same time; and so Christ can be received by you and by me and a thousand others.
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Is receiving Holy Communion then, essential to our own resurrection? Well, if we wish to be resurrected in glory, how can we do it without being in contact with the Body of Christ? Thomas Aquinas says that normally yes, we must eat his Body in order to be resurrected, and this is why the Church requires us to receive the Eucharist at least once a year; But Aquinas says this is not absolutely required.
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If a baby or a young person was baptized and dies, but has not yet received Holy Communion, what of them? As St. Augustine says, by being baptized, they already begin to share in the Body of Christ – the Church.

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