Jesus says, “If you eat this bread you will live forever” (John 6:51). It is so interesting that he chooses taste, flavor, and nutrition as the symbol of how life is transferred, and not intellectual cognition. If you live by the momentary identity that others give you, that’s what dies when you die, and you’re left with nothing. Your relative identity passes away, but it is like the painful erasing of an unwanted tattoo. When Jesus says he’s giving himself to you as the “bread of life,” he’s saying, as it were, “Find yourself in me, and this will not pass or change or die. Eat this food as your primary nutrition, and you are indestructible.” This is your absolute and indestructible identity.
We all slowly learn how to live in what Thomas Merton would call the True Self—who you are, and always have been, in God. Who you are in God is who you forever are. In fact, that’s all you are, and it is more than enough. Everything else is passing away. Reputations, titles, possessions, and roles do not determine our identity. When I hand out the Eucharistic bread I love to say to the assembly, “You become what you eat. Come and eat who you are—forever!” You access Great Truth by absorption and digestion, almost never by analysis or argumentation.
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Adapted from Eucharist as Touchstone (CD, MP3) The Daily Meditations for 2013 are now available in Fr. Richard’s new book Yes, And . . .