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THE REAL PRESENCE The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist CHRIST IN THE EUCHARIST

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In Me

Copyright © 1997 James H. Dobbins

In that day you will know that I am in
My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.
John 14:20

Having examined some of the ways in which we can contemplate what it means to be In Him, it is fitting to examine how we can respond to Jesus being in us, to contemplate what is offered by Him, to understand that what He offers is possible, and desired by God, for each of us, right here, right now. We must also consider what we must do in order for Him to come to us, to reside within us.

The true Light that enlightens every man was coming into
the world. He was in the world, and the world was made
through Him, yet the world knew Him not. He came to His
own home, and His own people received Him not. But to all
who received Him, who believed in His name, He gave power
to become children of God;
John 1:9-12

Receiving Christ must always be considered in a spiritual sense, and thus I receive Him interiorly, in my soul. I cannot be in Him unless He is in me. Doing what I must for Him to reside in me is a necessary condition for me to be in Him. I must receive His light within me, accept that light, and come to know Him and desire Him enough to do what is necessary for Him to come to me and reside in my soul. I must also accept, although it is beyond my capability of understanding, that the infinite triune God, creator of the universe, creator of my soul, can, and desires to, reside within my soul. God is Spirit, not a spirit (John 4:24). He is Spirit and Truth. He is not confined, limited, or somehow bound within some frame that can be force-fit into my soul. This fact alone provides some idea of the unbounded capacity of the soul to receive Him, receive Him who is Love. I receive not just a part of Him, not just a "finger" or an "arm", but all of Him, in His infinite Being. He has made my soul with a destiny to be in His image, and also His likeness. As such, Jesus resides in me and I in Him, just as He is in the Father and the Father is in Him.

I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe
in Me through their word, that they may all be one; even as
Thou, Father, are in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be
in us, so that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me.
John 17:20

Whatever is in God is in me when He resides in me. He desires a mutual possession of being, He in me and I in Him. He cannot be in me without the fullness of His grace being in me, for He and His unbounded grace are not separable. Thus, the same grace which fills the Blessed Mother is in me, though unperceived by me, yet perceived in its fullness by her. She brings her Son to me, and me to Him, and with Him His infinite grace, and He grants me some degree of perception of that grace. In receiving Him and loving Him, in responding to His grace and His infinite love for me, He gives me the power to become His child. The common condition for all of this is genuine love; my love for Him and His for me.

If a man loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will
love him, and we will come to him and make our home in him.
John 14:23

His love is constant, and infinite. It is my love that is subject to change, so I must come to a state where my love for Him is so strong, so certain, that nothing can make me choose someone or something else over Him. My love for Him must constantly grow in a never ending attempt to match His love for me. I cannot do this without the help of His grace, for I must come to know Him within my heart, know Him well, before I can love Him that much. Therefore, to receive Him as I must, I must know Him as my creator, as my God, as my brother, as the One who knows me and loves me most intimately and infinitely. I must know Him as the One whose desire for me to love Him and to be in union with Him is so great that He died for me so I would be drawn to Him. He must communicate Himself to me within my soul before I can love Him this way. He must communicate to me, not so much in words, but through a sharing of His very self with me. I must also realize that He desires very much, because of His love for me, to communicate as much of Himself to me as I am disposed to receive. The more of Himself He shares with me and communicates to me within my soul, the more I can reciprocate by loving Him and giving myself to Him, for I then love Him in return with the same infinite Love He gives me. My ability to respond to Him is dependent on His love acting within me. My task is to freely seek Him and to accept Him unconditionally. My spiritual life, my eternal life, depends on God being present in me, pouring out His grace into my soul, then drawing me into Himself.

The Word, the Second Person of the Trinity, is also in eternal generation, and thus He is being continuously generated within me by the Father, as He has been since the beginning, if I have received Him. The Word is eternally generated in my soul, and through God active in my soul I become a child of God. I then mature in God to become what He wills for me to the extent to which I submit my will to His and let Him work within me. To have the risen Christ, my Savior, my God, continuously generated by the Father within my soul is awesome to contemplate, but I must also consider what is necessary for me to receive Him. It is through my receiving Him within me that He draws me into Himself and makes me one with Him. It is through my receiving Him within me that I can become a child of God, a co-heir with Christ to the kingdom. It is in receiving Him and loving Him that I can come to share in His life within me and respond as He wills to the action of His grace within me; me, a creature like no other, a creature He made in His own image and likeness, a creature to whom He desires to give back that likeness lost by Adam, a creature from whom He asks only love.

But I may feel I do not know Him, do not have a relationship with Him. If I feel this way, I must consider what John the Baptist said.

Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.
This is He of whom I said, "After me comes a man who ranks
before me, for He was before me."
I myself did not know Him; but for this I came baptizing with water,
that He might be revealed to Israel. And John bore witness, "I saw
The Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on Him.
I myself did not know Him; but he who sent me to baptize with
water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain,
this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit’."
John 1:29-33

God was revealed to John, but John had to be receptive. If I do not know Jesus, I must seek Him out. I must ask to know Him, ask to receive Him. I must watch for the signs God sends to me, whether they be internal or external. The signs will always be there, for God’s love for me will always compel Him to give me what I need to find Him and love Him. It is up to me to recognize and accept these signs. For John the Baptist, the signs had to be given by God in very clear terms, for John’s mission was so specific and was so crucial in proclaiming the presence of the Son of Man to the rest of mankind. The long awaited Messiah had come. We all have the signs. We have the witness in the gospel. We have the miracles given to us through the ages since the time of Christ, and we have the prophesy in the Hebrew Testament that Jesus fulfilled while He walked on earth. We also have the grace from God to see and accept the signs, provided we accept the grace and the signs freely, for He will never force Himself on us. He offers us an infinite treasure, but we must accept it.

And from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came
through Jesus Christ.
John 1:16-17

The people of Israel, the chosen people of God, had received many treasures from God, many graces, but the one treasure they focused on most, the one they made the dominant influence of their life, was the Law as given to them through Moses. Jesus would tell them that the law was made for man, not man for the law, but this law had become so central to their thinking that many were not able to accept the grace and truth Jesus brought to them. They lost sight of the evolving nature of revelation, that God must reveal Himself to mankind in stages, as we are able to accept it. For many, they were unable to go beyond the law, for the law gave them position and power and their very identity as Jews. The law became a way of life lived among other men, not a way of loving other men or a way of living in God. It became something which controlled how they responded to each other and to God.

With the Incarnation came an infusion of new grace, and the completion of God’s revelation to man. None of the Ten Commandments contains the word "love", and yet Jesus tells us that all the law and all the commandments are founded on the two commandments of love He reiterated. These two commandments of love were already in the Hebrew scripture, in Deuteronomy and Leviticus, but they had gotten somewhat lost amidst all the other elements of scripture. This completion of revelation in Jesus called for changes many were unable to accept, many that were seen as a threat to what they had achieved. This revelation was rejected by many, but accepted by a few. How Jesus was able to enter into their open hearts is a wonder to contemplate.

The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples;
and he looked at Jesus as He walked and said, "Behold, the Lamb
of God." The two disciples heard him say this and they followed
Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following, and said to them,
"What do you seek?" And they said to Him, "Rabbi" (which means
teacher), "where are you staying?" He said to them, "Come and
see." They came and saw where He was staying; and they stayed
with Him that day, for it was about the tenth hour."
John 1:35-39

Isn’t this a strange dialogue? Jesus says, "What do you seek?", and they respond with "Where are you staying?", and His return response is, "Come and see." What did they see? They saw much more than a dwelling, for the gospel continues:

One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was
Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon
and said to him, "We have found the Messiah"(Which means Christ).
He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, "So you
are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas" (which
means Peter).
John 1:40-42

What did they see? What happened to these disciples? Is this not a strange thing for Jesus to tell Simon at their first introduction? They ask Jesus where He is staying, and He tells them to "Come and see." What did He show them? Clearly, enough to convince them that He was the Messiah. Their hearts had already been made receptive by John, and Jesus was able to pour out His grace into their souls. Jesus showed them where He was staying, where He always stayed. Jesus was always within the Father, within the Trinity. Jesus showed them how they, too, could live within God, how they could share in His life. John the Evangelist, the presumed other disciple who was with Andrew that day, could later write in the beginning of the fourth gospel, "In Him was life, and the life was the light of men." John and Andrew saw where Jesus dwelled, within the Trinity, within the bosom of God, and they were invited to reside there with Him. They received the Light who was Jesus, and saw that He was their life. Jesus opened the door of His eternal dwelling place to them and invited them to share it with Him.

"Come and see." He says this to me, too, and I must respond. Andrew and John responded to His grace, and He poured Himself into their souls. How they must have felt, how they must have changed, we can only contemplate. The scriptures only tell us the result. "We have found the Messiah." They found where He lived in eternity, and they responded to His call of love, His call to live there with Him. They became His, giving their lives to Him, and He gave Himself to them. Peter would eventually be given the keys to the kingdom, and Andrew and Peter would both become martyrs for Jesus. They responded, they followed, they saw where He was staying, and they wanted to stay there with Him for eternity. This was the treasure He offered them. This is the same exact treasure He offers me every day. He offers Himself to me in the Eucharist, He teaches me about Himself in the word of God read to me, He offers me Himself, all that He is and all that His kingdom can provide, because He loves me; not because I deserve it or have done something to merit it. I must "Come and see" where He is. What I find is that He is in the eternal Trinity, and He will also stay in me if I open my door to Him. I must open the door of my heart to let His grace and truth come to me and fill me with Himself. I must receive Him in me before I can be received in Him.

When He comes to me in the Eucharist, what does He find? Is my temple prepared? Is it a fitting place for Him to dwell? How unencumbered am I when I "come and see"? Am I ready for Him to enter within me?

In the temple He found those who were selling oxen and sheep
and pigeons, and the money-changers at their business. And making
a whip of cords, He drove them all, with the sheep and oxen, out of
the temple; and He poured out the coins of the money-changers
and overturned their tables. And He told those who sold the
pigeons, "Take these things away; you shall not make My Father’s
house a house of trade." His disciples remembered that it was
written, "Zeal for Thy house will consume me."
John 2:14-17

The temple should be a place where only God dwells. If my soul is to be a temple, as St. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 6:16 and other places, it must be free of defilement. It must be purified and all else must be put aside, driven out. My soul must be cleansed, through sacrament and prayer, and made ready to receive Him. Jesus drove them out, but He also told those who sold pigeons, "Take these things away." Is He inviting some back into the temple when they have put away their impurities? Is He telling them to rid themselves of the offensive matter and return? Jesus wants them, too, to accept His grace and truth. Many are driven away from God by their greed and lack of love for God and neighbor, but are invited to cleanse themselves and return. If I am to have God in me, in the temple of my soul, I must cleanse myself and then return and ask for His grace and truth. I must make my soul a temple of God, not a haven for worldly concerns. I must seek virtue, not material goods. I must live the grace and truth of God within me so I may seek His Light in all I do.

But he who does what is true comes to the Light, that it may
be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God.
John 3:21

Once I have reached this state of relationship with God, once I seek Him in truth, open myself to His grace, and find Him in me, find His love in my heart, I will worship Him as He has intended for eternity that I should worship Him. I will worship Him in Spirit and truth, not merely by observance of the dictates of law. True worship always comes from the heart, not from law. True worship is a product of love, not fear of punishment.

But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers
will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father
seeks to worship Him. God is spirit, and those who worship
Him must worship in spirit and truth.
John 4:23-24.

But even as I grow in my relationship with God, and discover Him in me in new and ever expanding ways, I must always go back and recognize my share of responsibility in this relationship, for I am the work of Jesus, just as Jesus is the work of the Father. It is for me, to be in me for eternity, that He came as my Savior, as my brother; to make me a child of God. I am the final project in the work of God.

Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me,
and to accomplish His work".
John 4:34
Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in
Him whom He has sent."
John 6:29
...and this is the will of Him who sent Me, that I should lose
nothing of all that He has given Me, but raise it up at the last day.
John 6:39
For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son
gives life to whom He will.
John 5:21

Jesus came to complete the work of the Father, to bring us salvation, to bring us the kingdom, to complete the revelation of God to mankind, to give us the gift of sonship. This is the work that is accomplished in me and for which Jesus was sent among us. He came to bring us Light, so that through this Light, through Himself, He could give us His Life. He came to find the spiritually dead so He could give them a share in the life of God. But in spite of what He offers, so many walk away, more willing to rely on the familiar than on God. How little trust they have in His love.

But the testimony which I have is greater than that of John;
for the works which the Father has granted Me to accomplish,
these very works which I am doing, bear Me witness that the
Father has sent Me. And the Father who sent Me has Himself
borne witness to Me. His voice you have never heard, His
form you have never seen; and you do not have His word
abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He has sent.
You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you
have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to Me; yet you
refuse to come to Me that you may have life.
John 5:36-40

As I approach God, satan does what he can to draw me away. Confusion is a favorite weapon of his, and the more confusion he can generate, the more he can whittle away at the love and trust Jesus wants to instill in me. I can see this in the gospel as Jesus speaks to the disciples about the Eucharist. He teaches them about Himself, about what He will become for them, about the need for them to partake of His Body and Blood, and their immediate response is to focus on where He is from, not to seek to understand what He has just taught them.

The Jews then murmured at Him, because He said, "I am the Bread
which came down from heaven."
They said, "Is not this Jesus, son of Joseph, whose father and mother
we know? How does he now say ‘I have come down from heaven?’"
John 6:41-42.

Confusion filled their minds, but they dared not ask Him to explain Himself. They only asked each other, those equally confused and ignorant and unreceptive. Were they afraid of the possible answer? Would His answer change their lives, which had become familiar and well ordered, or so they thought? They did not say, as did Mary to the angel Gabriel, "How can this be?" They argued about where they believed He came from, as if that were the determining factor. How do I respond to the approach of God? Do I respond to Him with an open heart, receptive to His grace, or do I receive Him closed, shut off from grace, unwilling to accept the unfamiliar, the hard, the call to a different attitude toward God and neighbor? How often do I say, "How can this be?" instead of "I don’t believe it."?

Jesus later told them why they did not understand:
If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded
and came forth from God; I came not of my own accord, but
He sent Me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is
because you cannot bear to hear My word. You are of your
father, the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.
He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do
with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies
he speaks according to his own nature, for he is the father of
lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me.
John 6:42-45

If I am to receive Christ in me, in my soul, I cannot be self-focused but rather God-focused. I must be willing to be open to His grace, willing to be a temple for Him which has been purged of the things that will make it distasteful for Him to be in me, the things that cause Him to hide deep within and not manifest Himself. I must have a soul that He can move within at will, unencumbered by my willfulness, my selfishness, my lack of a sense of sacrifice. I cannot participate in the sacrifice of the Mass, His ultimate sacrifice offered for me, and at the same time be unwilling to make sacrifices for Him. I must offer Him, consecrate to Him, all that I am. I must love Him with my whole being. He calls me to unconditional love for neighbor, for He tells me to love others as He loves me. His love for me is unconditional. I can see a reflection of how much I love Him by how much I love my spouse. If I am selfish with my spouse, putting myself first in all things, considering my spouse and children only after I have planned for my own self-satisfaction and convenience, how can I be ready to receive Christ within me? His gift of Himself to me must be reflected by my gift of myself to Him, as exemplified by how I give my love unconditionally to others. I must seek virtue in all that I do.

If I am to seek virtue, so that He might live in me, I must do so through love of neighbor. God told St. Catherine of Sienna, one of three women Doctors of the Church, that if we are to obtain virtue, it must be through our neighbor.

I wish also that you should know that every virtue is obtained
by means of your neighbor.
And it cannot be otherwise, because love of Me and of her
neighbor are one and the same thing, and, so far as the soul
loves Me, she loves her neighbor, because love towards him
issues from Me. This is the means which I have given you,
that you may exercise and prove your virtue therewith;
Because, inasmuch as you can do Me no profit, you should
do it to your neighbor. This proves that you possess Me by
grace in your soul, producing much fruit for your neighbor
and making prayers to Me, seeking with sweet and amorous
desire My honor and the salvation of souls.
Whether man will or no, he cannot help making an act of
love. It is true, however, that that act, unless made through
love of Me, profits him nothing as far as grace is concerned.

Therefore, if I am to live a life of grace, and have God in me, I must live my life motivated by love of God and neighbor as unconditionally as possible, and, loving God, I must keep His word. I must live His commands and act in accordance with His will. I must love my neighbor as He loves me. I must put aside all that separates me from Him. I must cleanse my temple, and do as He asks, out of love for Him and not out of fear of punishment. I must pursue Him so He can capture me, for the more I love Him, the more He will possess me.

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