|AN OASIS IN THE DESERT
It is sad to realize that so many believe
Jesus is Present in the Blessed Sacrament and seldom visit Him. Men travel
across the oceans to see ancient ruins, paintings, landscapes and
celebrities, but they do not think of going into a simple church around
the corner to visit the Creator of all beauty.
Man complains of his tensions, hang-ups and frustrations and for these
human weaknesses he consumes bottles of pills and other remedies. He
spends time and money trying to ascertain who he is and how he came to be.
He is tormented by his past and entertains visions of grandeur or despair
for the future.
We have a need to empty ourselves, know ourselves, accept ourselves and
rise above ourselves.
Our need is not so much in changing what we are as in knowing how best
to change who we are. How does darkness turn into light? How does ice turn
into fire? How does a limited intelligence comprehend the mystery of life,
death and what is to come?
To whom shall we go when no one listens or cares to hear our tale of
woe? Who beckons to our broken heart or gives us the opportunity to cry
"Whoever remains in Me, with Me in him, bears fruit in plenty." These
words of Jesus at the Last Supper give us a way of holiness that is both
simple and easy. The Holy Eucharist is God within us and with usit
is God in us and we in God.
To maintain a close relationship with the God of Love, we must remain
in that Holy Presence often. As the rays of the sun change and alter
whatever they touch, so the Eternal Son, ever present in the Blessed
Sacrament, changes whoever places himself in His Presence.
He is Present in the Eucharist to show us the depth of His Love, the
lengths He will go to be with us, the longing of His heart to be always
It is not important what we say in His Presence. It is only important
that we are thereoften
to let His Presence penetrate our souls and heal usto
shine on our minds, to strengthen our wills, to bring peace in the midst
of turmoil. We must be content to be near Himto
let Him work wonders in our soulsto
silently absorb the beauty of His self-effacing loveto
let the rays of His light penetrate our innermost being and change our
stony hearts into hearts of flesh, our rudeness into kindness, our temper
If only we had the humility to realize that He alone is Goodness and
makes us good. As soon as we come into His Presence in the Eucharist, our
souls respond to the power before them like a sunflower turning toward the
His silent Presence, hidden in the tabernacle, says to each one of us,
"I love you. Come to me all you who labor and are burdened and I will
refresh you. Come to the fountain of life and drink. Tell Me your
problems. Listen to My Voice. I tug at your heart, guiding your way and
smoothing your path."
There is between the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus and the soul, a silent
exchange of love, a sharing of pain, an inaudible dialogue between two who
know each other perfectly and love each other deeply.
It is as if the soul sees itself in a perfect Mirror and knows clearly
its faults and imperfections. A strange phenomenon occurs as the soul
gazes at Jesus, Its own reflection becomes brighter, Its faults fade away
and one day that "soul is turnedtransformed
into the Image it reflected." (2 Cor. 3:18)
This being true, why do we permit our souls to die of thirst when the
Fountain of Living Water is just around the corner?
Deep in the heart of every human being there is the desire for Heaven
and a fear of the death that initiates that desired goal.
It is a strange phenomenon that we cling to what is temporal, desire
what is eternal and wish that somehow we could have both at the same time.
The desire to love and to be loved, the need of the presence of loved
ones is planted in the heart of every human being because we were created
by the God of Love to love. When man digresses from the mission to love,
he creates a hell for himself and everyone around him.
Love is a flame that must be constantly fed to keep from diminishing,
One of the ingredients of love is to be needed, The sinners flocked to
Jesus because they had a need, while the self-complacent Pharisees were
only antagonized by His Presence.
Jesus knew that when He was gone we would need a moving force to enable
us to become and remain sons of the Father. He sent us His Spirit to
possess our souls, enlighten our minds, direct our wills and fill us with
the virtues we needed to bear the fruit of Jesus.
This He did for our sakes but as God-ManHuman
wanted to satisfy His love for us and to feed our love for Himself by a
His life on earth made Him experience what His Infinite Mind always
knew: Man needed to see to believe. How could man live by Faith and yet
see God? How could He leave us in order to send the Spirit and yet stay to
be our Companion? How could love be satisfied and thirst satiated without
interfering with man's free will and the need to choose for himself?
Our God is inexhaustible in the ways He uses to manifest His love for
us. Jesus devised a way to feed our souls, to nourish our bodies with
heavenly food, to thrill our souls with the taste of Infinite Loveto
stay with us after He returned to the Father.
To prepare us to accept this Mystery of Faith, He performed miracles to
symbolize the reality and then at that solemn moment before His death, He
revealed just how He would be with us to the end of time. Divine Love
triumphed before death paved the way for the Resurrection. He revealed to
the crowds that He would be their food and drink and told them
emphatically that unless they ate His Body and drank His Blood they would
not have life in them.
HE HAS ONLY TO WILL
It is significant to note that the first miracle Jesus performed was
not a gesture of compassion for the sick or possessed. He lived a life of
work and prayer for thirty years and as soon as He began to manifest His
Divine Nature, worked a miracle symbolic of something greater to come.
At the wedding feast of Cana Jesus merely told the servants to draw out
the water and take it to the chief steward, He did not say a prayer over
the water or touch it, He merely willed that it be changed from water to
wine, Only God can create or change by an act of His Will alone. God's
Prophets performed similar miracles, Elias prayed and the oil did not
diminish until the famine was over, Here Jesus does not pray as one whose
gift depends upon the Will of God. NoHe
His Will alonecreates
or changes His creation.
It was so when more than four thousand I followed Him and forgot to eat
for three days. As at the wedding feast of Cana, there was in the feeding
of the multitude an important message, These kinds of miracles were
performed by Jesus to impress upon the minds of the crowd that His power
was the Power of God, These particular gestures of compassion were wrought
as a symbol of something greater to come. Their hearts were prepared to
accept a greater mystery that He would reveal before His deaththe
Mystery of the Eucharist, This Mystery was so great a gift from God that
the human mind would never be able to accept such an influx of love
without some preparation.
He would one day change bread and wine into His own Body and Blood. The
same Power would multiply; the same minister would distribute from the
same Source of LoveJesus.
As the steward at Cana and the crowds in the desert did not understand
how He did it, they all realized that what He did was done out of love. He
nourished their bodies and though all benefited by the fruit of His Power,
none were deprived of His personal attention and love. These two miracles
foreshadowed the Eucharist.
He began His life by taking on the flesh of man and ended it by giving
that flesh back to man in the form of food, He began His public life by
changing water into wine and He ended it by changing bread and wine into
His Body and Blood.
He accomplished both miracles with great ease. On both occasions He was
only by His chosen few. Both miracles were accomplished in a quiet
conversational tone of voiceas
if it were nothing.
A necessary ingredient of Faith then is a belief not only in what God
reveals, but in His Power to accomplish anything He wills to do. Our part
is to humbly wait for Him to manifest His Will. We are never sure that
what we ask for is for our good and so we wait for a confirmation if the
answer is "Yes" and enlightenment if the answer is "No."
The one thing we cannot do as Christians is to question His Power and
the right to manifest that Power by a mere act of His Will. God has only
to Will and out of nothingness comes existence, and from existence comes
change, Whether that change is abrupt and sudden or gradual and
imperceptible, the same Power is at work. We cannot question His Power for
the One who created mountains, hills, planets and stars out of nothing can
surely change something that already exists into something else, Neither
can we question His Love. Who can fathom a Love as great as the Love of
Jesus? He proved it Himself by His birth, life, death and resurrection,
Since the source of the doubts cannot be in God, it must be in ourselves.
Perhaps we are afraid of the obligations placed upon us when we believe in
His Real Presence in the Eucharist. Perhaps our love is too lukewarm to
accept the total abnegation of Jesus as He places Himself into a small
During their sojourn in the desert, the Israelites were fed by God with
manna. They were His chosen people and as they wandered from place to
place, God kept them alive by giving them a fresh supply daily.
This food kept their bodies healthy and strong, but what it symbolized
increased their faith. It was a food sent by God to manifest His
Providence and Love. "It was not Moses who gave you bread from heaven,"
Jesus told the crowds, "it is My Father who gives you bread from heaven."
It is strange that in describing a past event Jesus used the present
tense. The Father is still feeding His people. In the past He sent Manna
and in the present He sends Jesus.
The people asked for this bread of life, expecting some type of manna
that would satisfy them forever. "Give us this bread always," they
The answer they received was not what they expected. "I am the Bread of
Life, "He told them.
In a very short discourseJn.
told the crowds four times that He would raise them up on the last day:
three times that He was living Bread and twice, that they would live
forever. There was a condition to all these promises. This condition has
two facets. "I tell you solemnly, everybody who believes has eternal
life." (Jn. 6:47) Belief in the message Jesus gave them from the Father
was food for the soul. He was man's true broad but a Bread that only Faith
could receive. That Faith in Him made them heirs to the Kingdom. They were
to hear and learn, absorb and digest the words of Jesus as they flowed
from the Father. Lest they think it sufficient for them merely to hear the
words, He said, "I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate manna in the
desert and they are dead, but this is the bread that comes down from
Heaven so that a man may eat it and not die." (Jn. 6:49.50)
Spiritual food was as necessary as physical food. The word of God had
to be taken in by the mind so man would know what to do to please God.
However, once that word entered the soul it needed power to germinate.
Something else was needed to permit it to bear a hundredfold fruit. So
bountiful was this fruit to become that it took over the soul completely
and that soul, created with limitations, would contain within itself its
very Creator. The Creator would shine forth in the soul and transform it.
Love itself would take possession of the soul and it would begin to love
with God's own Love.
How was this marvel to be accomplished? Sad to say, the crowds of His
time grasped the Mystery more quickly than the people of today. "The Jews
started arguing with one another, 'How can this man give us His Flesh to
eat?' Jesus replied: 'I tell you solemnly, if you do not eat the Flesh of
the Son of Man and drink His Blood you will not have life in you.'"
Why did the Jews not accept this statement of Jesus as a symbol? On a
day in the not too distant future Jesus was to call Himself a Vine and His
followers branches, growing from that Vine. They understood this as a
symbol and so it was,
The Author of Truth was bound to make this Mystery clear in the minds
of His listeners. Unless Truth was set forth clearly there would be no way
for that Truth to be accepted or rejected. The Free Will given to man by
his Creator would not be held responsible for a Light that was only
faintly visible. So bright was the Light of this revelation that it
carried with it the Promise of Eternal Life.
"Anyone who does eat My Flesh and drink My Blood has eternal life and I
shall raise him up on the last day." Jesus used the present tense again
and said, "has eternal life." (Jn. 6:40)
Eternal Life begins with this Eucharistic communion of lifethis
intimate union of Creator and creaturethis
mingling of All with nothingness. The Eucharist enables Eternal Light and
the created soul to join together and become one Light. Living Bread and a
living soul unite and become one Love, one sacrifice for the salvation of
The Father communicates life to the Son and Jesus passes on that life
to the faithful by making Himself their food. Only the Holy Spirit can
give souls the light to understand this Mystery of the Eucharist. The
never invent, believe or accept such a Mystery on its own.
Body of Christ, make me holy. Fill my weak soul with an overflowing of
Grace so You and I may be as One. You have created me for Yourself. What
an act of ingratitude to keep any part of me for myself. My weakness and
pride make me forget You but Your humble Presence in the Eucharist stirs
my soul to repentance. Let us be hidden together in love and union. Accept
my wretchedness and wrap it in Your Power and change it all in the fire of
The author prays that all those who read this booklet will have a
deeper awareness of the Father's Mercy, the Son's Love and the Spirit's
Printed with the ecclesiastical approval of:
JOSEPH G. VATH, D.D.
Bishop of Birmingham
©1976 Eternal Word Television Network, Inc.
Scripture Quotations taken from Jerusalem Bible unless otherwise