Watch: Week 56 | On the Road to Emmaus w/ Bishop Boyea | Taste and See!

Friday, July 5, 2024

Feast of Saint Elizabeth of Portugal 


Dear friend,

The first part of this verse above has become a frequent Communion hymn. I have often wondered, as I have received Holy Communion, what exactly the Lord is supposed to taste like. In this third and last reflection on Communion, allow me to muse on this a bit as we near close to the end of our pilgrimage through the Holy Mass On the Road to Emmaus.

The entire Mass has been about Jesus’ sacrifice of himself to the Father for us. Jesus has taken the bitterness of my sins, of our sins, and changed them into the sweetness of love. And the amazing thing is that I did not deserve such a transformation. Nor do any of us. But there is irony here. There is something about sin that always seems sweet in itself. That is what makes sin attractive. This, of course, is clearly seen as a lie once we are on the receiving end of someone else’s sinfulness. Then the true bitterness of sin manifests itself to us. Unfortunately, this can sometimes take a long time for us to understand. So, what seems sweet becomes bitter and Jesus makes bitterness turn sweet.

This is not the only thing that becomes topsy-turvy. Sure, if someone loves us by dying for us, by sacrificing for us that is pretty sweet to us. But if we turn that around and seek to love in the same way, it is clear that sacrificial love, at first, does not seem so sweet to us. The taste of us sacrificing ourselves out of love for God or neighbor, at first, seems sad and painful. However, a frank conversation with any married couple who have truly sacrificed for one another reveals the incredible banquet that love can truly be. For them the bitterness of dying for another has become sweetness itself.

This change in taste is what happens as we consume the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ and make our way back to our pews each Sunday. This reminds me of three Bible texts. Jeremiah (15:16) records how his very difficult ministry began: “When I found your words, I devoured them; your words were my joy, the happiness of my heart.” He then experienced a lot of unhappiness.

Ezekiel (3:3) recalled God’s command, “Son of man…feed your stomach and fill your belly with this scroll I am giving you. I ate it, and it was as sweet as honey.” He too encountered difficulties in his preaching. A like direction, but probably more realistic, is given in the Book of Revelation (10:10): “I took the small scroll from the angel’s hand and swallowed it. In my mouth it was like sweet honey, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour."

As we taste the Lord in Holy Communion, being fully aware that Jesus himself has entered into us, there will no doubt be some bitterness because of the kind of love that has been shown us and is now expected of us. However, the Lord is indeed good! So, the final taste will always be sweet, sweet as honey.

And so, to this week’s challenge: As we’ve learned over the past year, prayer and mortification come first and second in the Christian life followed by good works which are the overflow of a healthy interior life. Hence, this week:

I’m challenging you to go forth from Sunday Mass and undertake a corporal work of mercy.

What are the corporal works of mercy? And in what way do they flow from our Eucharistic life? Watch as one of our fellow pilgrims now explains. Enjoy the film!

Until we meet again On the Road to Emmaus.

I am sincerely yours in Christ,

+ Earl Boyea

Bishop of Lansing