The people were hanging on Jesus’ every word

“Every day he was teaching…all the people were hanging on his words” (Luke 19: 47-48).

Jesus, the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us, is our Teacher and Master.  Every day we need to hear the Lord speaking. Every day we need the direction only Jesus can give. Every day society needs to be reorganized and renewed according to the words of life from the Lord of Life. Every. Day.

“Every day he was teaching…all the people were hanging on his words.”

Some days might seem to us to be too busy, too crazy, to take time to read God’s Word found in the Bible. But every day that Jesus was on this earth he taught us. God himself learned to speak in our faltering language about our very creaturely struggles, addressing our profound weakness and glaring needs for healing. He whom the angels praise with song and glory humbled himself to become a man in order to teach us, to save us, to reconcile us with the Father that we might live forever in heaven.

When Jesus ascended into heaven 2000 years ago, did his teaching end? Were we to hear his voice no more? That beloved voice that spoke to us the truth, that comforted and challenged, that proclaimed words of healing and forgiveness and courage? That voice that touched individual lives in ever so profound ways. Where can we encounter Jesus today in order to hear his voice as he speaks to us personally?

Pope Francis, in his document Desiderio Desideravi, wrote that every word, every gesture, every glance, every feeling of Jesus reaches us through the Eucharist, through the celebration of all the sacraments. It is in the Eucharist and the sacraments that we encounter Jesus. It is there that we hear him. It is there that we experience how he sees us, what he thinks about us, what he feels toward us (cf. n. 11).

It is when we receive Jesus in Communion that the events narrated in the Gospel become present to us today. When we have received Jesus in the Eucharist, when we are before him in adoration, Pope Francis helps us understand how Jesus and his teaching become present. There in prayer in the real presence of Jesus, we can each say: “I am Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman at the well, the man possessed by demons at Capernaum, the paralytic in the house of Peter, the sinful woman pardoned, the woman afflicted by hemorrhages, the daughter of Jairus, the blind man of Jericho, Zacchaeus, Lazarus, the thief and Peter both pardoned. The Lord Jesus who dies no more, who lives forever with the signs of his Passion continues to pardon us, to heal us, to save us with the power of the sacraments. It is the concrete way, by means of his incarnation, that he loves us” (n. 11).

St Ephrem helps us reflect more deeply on this when he says: “O Lord, we cannot go to the pool of Siloam to which you sent the blind man. But we have the chalice of your Precious Blood, filled with life and light. The purer we are, the more we receive.”

“Every day he was teaching…all the people were hanging on his words.”

A friend once told me about her young nephew asking her why the people in the Church were processing to the altar. What was it all about? he wanted to know. She explained that they were receiving Jesus himself in the Eucharist. He thought about that for a few moments and then he asked her, “If that is really true, then why doesn’t everyone look happy?”

These words come back to me often. As a Daughter of St. Paul I have received holy Communion and made an hour of Eucharistic adoration every day for the past 49 years. There are times when I’m distracted, tired, preoccupied, or just “not present.” It is at these times that we can recall that the people of Judea were hanging on Jesus’ every word! And I, we, have the immense privilege to be able to receive the gift Jesus gave us at the Last Supper: himself. He wanted to stay with us always: to teach us every day, to love and forgive us, heal and transform us. The Eucharist is real, it is really the body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. In receiving the Eucharist we receive from Jesus healing and health. He teaches us and heals our sins and our ills and feeds our body and our soul. The Eucharist is life. The Eucharist brings us eternal life.

Let us, therefore, hang on Jesus’ every word. Let us approach the altar with joy and thanksgiving. Let us reserve our hearts for him through a gentle asceticism which makes room for his glory in our lives. Let us keep Jesus company in the Eucharist whenever we are able. Even if we can’t pray in a Eucharistic chapel, in spirit we can always prostrate ourselves before Jesus in the Tabernacles of the world in adoration and thanksgiving, ready to hear what he desires to say to us.

Let us hang on Jesus’ every word.

Image Credit: Érica Viana via Cathopic

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