Sunday, June 22, 2014

Some ideas from the 11am Homily (never used)

Lord Jesus, I believe, but help my unbelief. Please continue giving me your Body and Blood in the Eucharist, and grant me the grace to grow every day in love for you and in my faith in your real presence in the Eucharist: Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. I also pray for our priests and all the ones you are called to give their lives in the vocation to the priesthood, help them to be generous and to offer their plans they have in life to follow your plans... Help us to remember that a Church without priests is a Church without the Sacrament of The Eucharist, Your Body and Blood, and all the other Sacraments. Our Lady of the of the Apostles, help us to remain close to your Son, Amen

Why do we need a feast to celebrate the Eucharist? It gives us the opportunity personally, and as a Church, to give God thanks for Christ’s abiding presence with us, which is made visible in the Eucharist. It is also an opportunity for us to seek a better understanding of the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ.  By understanding more deeply, we can adjust and order our attitudes toward the Sacrament, because the Eucharist is a sacrament of life, which, if misused, could bring about the opposite effect. As St Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “All who eat and drink in an unworthy manner, without discerning the Lord’s body eat and drink judgment against themselves. For this reason many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.” (1 Cor 11:29-30)

In order to have a better understanding of the Eucharist we need to ask why Jesus gave us this sacrament in the first place.  A closer reading of today's gospel or, better still, the whole of the Eucharistic discourse in from John, chapter 6, will provide us with some useful answers. From the reading we can discern two main reasons that Jesus gave us this sacrament. 

First, recalling Matthew 28:20, we remember that Jesus promised to be with us until the end of time. In the Eucharist, He provides a visible sign and an effective means of being present to us and of us being present to him. As Jesus himself said, “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood remain in me, and I in them.” 

The second reason Jesus gave us the Sacrament of the Eucharist can be found in another part of the gospel of John.  In chapter 10 of verse 10, He said that He came that we may have life and have it to the full. In the Eucharist, Jesus provides a visible means of communicating this life to us, so that we can be fully alive both in this world and in the next for eternity. As Jesus said clearly – so that there would be no chance of His being misinterpreted - “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day.” (Jn 6:53-54)

The Jews that Jesus was addressing in John chapter 6 had gathered to ask him for more bread. Jesus promised to give them the sacramental bread and blood instead. But in their worldly frame of mind, they could not understand or appreciate the sacrament made available by Jesus’ promise. They argued among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” (v. 52) Jesus reaffirmed that “My flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.” (v. 55) The Jews ended up distancing themselves from the Eucharist because this sacramental language makes no sense in a world of materialism.

The same problem that these early "would-be" followers of Jesus had is still with us today. If we approach the Eucharist with a materialistic mentality, we fail to understand the true nature of the Sacrament, and so lose the benefits of this wonderful gift of God’s love. The Eucharist is true food and drink, but at the same time it is very different from every other type of food and drink. The great difference lies in these words of Christ which St Augustine heard in prayer, “You will not change me into yourself as you would with regular food of your flesh; but you will be changed and transformed into me when you eat my Body and Blood.” When we consume ordinary food, it is transformed into our own bodies.  But the food of the Eucharist is different.  When we consume Our Lord in the Eucharist, we are transformed into the body of Christ. The statement that we become what we eat is never more true that in the Eucharistic experience of the Mass. 

Why then do many of us who receive the Eucharist not experience more of this radical transformation? Maybe this story will throw more light on the question. A team of Russians and Americans were on a common expedition. Among their supplies of food on their ship was Russian black bread. It was tasty but hard on the teeth. During one of their meals, an American bit into a piece and snapped a tooth. He threw the bread overboard and growled, “Lousy Communist bread!” The Russian countered, “It is not lousy communist bread. It is rotten capitalist teeth!” If we do not experience the transforming power of the Eucharist, it is probably not on account of a lousy Eucharist, but on account of our rotten faith. Today, let us approach the Eucharist with a more lively faith in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, and we shall experience therein God's saving power and transforming love.

Lord Jesus, today I renew my faith in your true presence in the Eucharist. I believe you come down from heaven to be present in the host at every Mass and remain with me in the Tabernacle. You are the source of my hope. I long to be more united to you through this gift of yourself. 

Lord, increase my hunger and help me have always the best disposition to you in the Eucharist: an awareness that You are near to accompany and strengthened me in my weakness. 


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