What is our relation with food? Around the supper, do we Christians find unity or are we divided? By shedding His Blood, did Jesus give us God’s forgiveness? These were the three questions addressed yesterday morning, March 7, 2017, to the Pope and to the Roman Curia by Father Giulio Michelini, who is leading the Lenten Spiritual Exercises in the House of the Divine Master of Arriccia.
Today’s meditation focused on the theme “The Bread and the Body, the Wine and the Blood,” commenting on the Gospel passage of the Last Supper according to Saint Matthew.
As Vatican Radio reported, Father Michelini revealed first of all that to eat food is a real and proper anthropological frailty, a need that attests to human weakness. He then quoted a comment of Father Jean-Paul Hernandez, SJ, from the “Rules to Be Ordered in Eating,” given by Ignatius of Loyola for his Spiritual Exercises: Ignatius took up the key place that eating has in the human experience. One could say: tell me how you eat and I will tell you who you are. To eat is first of all to receive life from outside oneself, namely, to recognize one is not self-sufficient. In other words, to recognize one’s limit. To eat together with others is to confess before others this condition of creature.”
So Father Michelini requested us to reflect on our relation with food. “It is necessary to avoid the mind being wholly intent on what one eats, and eating hastily pushed by appetite; on the contrary, it is necessary to have command over oneself, be it in the way of eating, be it in the quantity,” explained the Friar, paraphrasing Saint Ignatius of Loyola in his “Rules to Be Ordered in Eating.”
In the second question, Father Michelini wondered how it is possible that we, Christians, who should find unity precisely around the supper, reproduce in the same way with our divisions, the same divisionary dynamics of the community of Corinth. He praised the ecumenical progress made, but revealed at the same time that it is still necessary to take many steps towards unity.
Finally, Father Michelini’s invitation was to ask ourselves if we are truly aware of Jesus who, by shedding His Blood has said and given us, with His own life and not only in words, God’s forgiveness.
Matthew’s lesson of the Last Supper highlights an element that we find only here, that of the Blood that will be shed from the cross for the forgiveness of sins.