I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE
Times are dangerous. A time when offerings stop, sacrifices cease and regular burnt offerings abolished. Yes, it is about our own times. What we see around is churches closed for Holy Mass and faithful prevented from getting together. For those who are not familiar with the Scripture, it may be a bolt from the blue. But for us, who are ever tuned to the Word, it is no surprise. Because the faithful have been anticipating such a time period for the past two millennia. Prophet Daniel had warned us in unequivocal terms that a time is due to come when continual sacrifice will be stopped. For him, it was such an important revelation that he mentioned it four times.
Let us start with Daniel 8:10-12 which reads; ‘It grew as high as the host of heaven. It threw down to the earth some of the host and some of the stars,and trampled on them. Even against the prince of the host it acted arrogantly; it took the regular burnt offering away from him and overthrew the place of his sanctuary. Because of wickedness, the host was given over to it together with the regular burnt offering; it cast truth to the ground, and kept prospering in what it did’.
This prophecy is about SOMEBODY who challenges the authority of the Most High and obstructs the sacrifices and offerings to Him. Daniel even describes the period for which this situation will continue. It is for half of the week. ‘He shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall make sacrifice and offering cease; and in their place shall be an abomination that desolates, until the decreed end is poured out upon the desolator’ ( Dan. 9:27).
His modus operandi is simple. He casts truth to the ground. He acts against Lord our God. He fights against the faithful and causes regular burnt offering to stop.In its place, he will install the abomination that desolates. In spite of all these apparent acts against God and His elect, it is prophesied that he would prosper in what he does. Imagine the modern man keeping God out of his life and instead putting his trust in world and what it offers; money, luxury, freedom and what not! We will get the picture of a person who is owned, controlled and possessed by that SOMEBODY. He doesn’t care about truth; for him falsity is truth,folly is wisdom and death is life.
Bible scholars interpret half of the week (ie. three and a half days) as representing three and a half years. We are familiar with this time period described in varying fashions as half of the week( Dan 9:27), forty two months (Revelation 11:2), one thousand two hundred sixty days( Revelation 12:6), one thousand two hundred ninety days (Dan 12:11), a time,two times and half a time ( Dan 7:25) and a time, times and half a time( Revelation 12:14). Experts in Scripture studies are of the opinion that all these time periods refer to the reign of antichrist.
In the gospels of Mathew, Mark and Luke, there are references to a certain future time which is linked to Daniel’s prophecy. ” So when you see the desolating sacrilege standing in the holy place, as was spoken of by the prophet Daniel ( let the reader understand), then those in the Judea must flee to the mountains’ ( Mathew 24:15-16). Mark tells about the same period, albeit without expressly mentioning Daniel’s name. ‘ But when you see the desolating sacrilege set up where it ought not to be ( let the reader understand) then those in Judea must flee to the mountains ( Mark 13:14). Luke narrates this fleeing from Judea in relation to the surrounding of Jerusalem by armies. ‘When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains( Luke 21:20-21).
Jerusalem or the City of God represents the Church of our times. As has been always, mountains are the perfect place to find our God in solitude. Watch for the times when the Holy Catholic Church is surrounded by enemies from four sides and also from within. Bear in mind that it is the time to come close to Christ in solitude by distancing ourselves from this wicked world. As for the words in parenthesis ( let the reader understand) I have nothing more to add. Let the readers of this article too understand the signs taking place around us, both inside and outside the Church. Pray for the wisdom to flee to the distant mountains of prayer, penance and reparation leaving behind the cities where we live now that are destined to go under siege soon.
One thing is evident, that Jesus endorses what was prophesied by Daniel. From the gospel of Mathew, we understand that Jesus explained these things to his disciples when asked about the timing of his second coming and of the end of the age. As we know, the traditional sacrifices and offerings of Jews were made irrelevant with the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Jesus knew that he was going to Jerusalem to be arrested, tried and crucified. Then why should he draw our attention to a prophecy made by Daniel some two centuries ago mentioning about the abolition of regular continual offering?
It is an interesting question, indeed. And its answer is simple. Jesus had another continual offering in mind while telling this. It was nothing but the sacrament of Holy Mass which he was going to establish in the coming days starting with his last supper through his sacrifice on cross. He made it a perpetual sacrifice for the salvation of human race. Whoever believes in this eternal sacrifice and receive the Holy Communion will inherit eternal life. This is the unchanging word of the Lord. ‘ I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh’ (John 6:48-51).
To emphasis his point further, Jesus added; ‘Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink'( John 6:53-55).
Jesus Christ established the sacrament of Holy Communion with one purpose. That those who partake in the Holy Communion by eating his flesh and drinking his blood should have eternal life. He wanted everybody, till the very last person on this earth, should be benefited from his sacrifice. And there was no better way for it than giving his flesh and blood in the form of bread and wine.
Jesus was referring to this continual sacrifice viz. Holy Communion when he quoted the prophecy of Daniel. He was telling his disciples – and us too- that a time is coming when Holy Mass will cease to be celebrated. This will deprive millions of their spiritual food without which they cannot withstand the coming tribulations of the end times.
Two questions remain. Whose agenda is it to abolish the Holy Mass? And how is it going to be abolished? Well, the answer to the first question is straight and simple. Those who act on behalf of the evil one, those who deny the salvational value of Jesus’ sacrifice, those who demean the Holy Communion as just a piece of bread and a few drops of wine, those running godless governments, those international institutions working against christianity and those indulging in and promoting all kinds of perversions and impurity. They don’t like Jesus. They don’t like his promise of eternal life to humankind.They don’t like sacraments. They are controlled by the spirit of antichrist who is due to reveal himself immediately before the glorious second coming of Jesus Christ.
How is he going to achieve the abolition of Holy Communion? Ways are many. In fact, a good number of Christians do not believe in transubstantiation, the transformation of bread and wine into the flesh and blood of our saviour. For them, it is a mere remembrance of his last supper. Many others,unfortunately catholics included, do not give the sacrament of Holy Communion the place it deserves. For them, it is only a part of the ritual called Holy Mass. Yet some others, receive it without examining their conscience and obtaining the sacrament of confession which is a precondition for receiving Holy Communion. Outside the christian world, billions of our brethren are not even aware of the salvational value of the precious blood and flesh of Jesus Christ.
To put it briefly, today Holy Communion appeals to only a small section of devout Christians, both catholic and orthodox. If the devil succeeds in destroying their faith in the sacrament? Sadly, we see concerted efforts in this direction every day. Attacks are coming from every corner, some least expected, against the sacraments of Holy Communion and Confession.
In spite of all these, there will remain a small flock loyal to the Lord. They will not deny their Lord, who bought them paying his precious blood as ransom. They cannot think of a day without Holy Mass. They are ready to forfeit any worldly pleasure to attend the Holy Mass. For them no sacrifice can match the benefits of receiving the Risen Lord in the form of bread and wine.
Devil knows this pretty well. So his ultimate aim is to completely abolish Holy Eucharist. He has the necessary infrastructure in place to get it done. He has planted his minions in key positions in this world. It is they who call the shots and rule the world now. This is not surprising. Bible has warned us of a power centre wielding authority over all the world. Read carefully; ‘ The beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty two months. It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming His name and His dwelling, that is, who dwell in heaven. Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. It was given authority over EVERY TRIBE AND PEOPLE AND LANGUAGE AND NATION and all inhabitants of the earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the lamb that was slaughtered ( Revelation 13:5-8).
In the wake of spread of COVID 19 infection, first step taken by authorities in many christian countries was to discourage people from attending Holy Mass. Their reasoning was that people coming together for Holy Mass will increase the chances of infection spreading more quickly. If it is so, why didn’t they order the closure of bars, restaurants, cinemas, stadiums, and night clubs also alongwith churches ? Why the first axe fell on Holy Mass and Holy Mass alone?
Because the body and blood of Jesus is the greatest medicine known to us. Nowhere in the history of the past two thousand years, we have heard of any kind of infection spreading through the consecrated host being received in tongue. Then why should they prohibit the practice of receiving Communion in tongue? Confession is something that involves just two persons; the priest and the person coming for confession. Why should they make confession out of bounds for fear of infection? The authorities think and act secular. But what about the children of God? How can we live without our spiritual food which is the only way to enter the gates of eternal life ?
According to St Don Bosco ‘two columns that support the Church of Jesus Christ in times of trouble are devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and devotion to the Blessed Virgin’. Is the time prophesied by Don Bosco upon us? Be vigilant,be loyal and be ready to go the extra mile to attend Holy Mass every day and receive the nourishment for our body and soul. COVID 19 is not a valid reason to shun our Lord’s lifegiving flesh and blood. If the woman with hemorrhages could obtain healing by just touching the cloak of Jesus, don’t you Christians, believe that the flesh and blood of Jesus is the best cure for anything with which the world frightens you? For you are not touching his cloak, but eating his flesh and drinking his blood!
Unfortunately some ministers of the Church are swayed by the whirlwind of propaganda unleashed by evil forces acting against Christ and succumbed to their wish to stop daily celebration of Holy Mass. We should pray for them, because we need them to celebrate Holy Mass. We need them to give us our spiritual food. We need them to hear our confessions. And we need them to prepare us for a peaceful passover from this world with extreme unction. Also they need our prayers to steadfastly uphold the dignity of Holy Eucharist amid the increasing attacks against it. Remember, Holy Communion in the ultimate medicine, for soul as well as body.
In this hour of agony and anxiety, raise your hands in prayer. Call out the name of Jesus and beg his mercy for us and the whole world. He will send faithful pastors to his flock. They will lead his people in the difficult times immediately before his glorious second coming.
Receive Communion often, very often……………there you have the sole remedy, if you want to be cured.
St Therese of Lisieux