Homily for August 16

Image source

Homily for the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

Jesus told the crowds,
 “The bread I will give is my flesh for the life of the world…”
And the people quarreled among themselves, saying
 “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

Folks still quarrel over this question.

As you know, there are many Christian churches
that don’t take the Lord at his word here,
that don’t believe that the bread of the Eucharist
becomes the Body of Christ.
It’s interesting, isn’t it,
that often it’s the Christians who preach the absolute necessity
of a personal encounter and relationship
with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ       
who are the least inclined to believe that Jesus comes to us
- truly and personally -  in his Body and Blood,
in the Bread and Cup of the Lord’s Supper.

It’s equally interesting that Catholics     
who believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist
are often the Christians least likely to speak
about having a personal encounter and relationship
with, Jesus, their Lord and Savior.
That’s not our vocabulary.

And, of course, there are many Catholic people who ask
as did the crowds 2,000 years ago,
 “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

Well, neither Jesus nor St. John whose gospel this is
were trying to teach us how the bread and wine of the Eucharist
become the flesh and blood of Jesus.
That was not their agenda.

Rather, this passage is all about Jesus’ desire for intimacy with us:
his desire to nourish us, always, with the life that is his to share.

Jesus invites us to intimacy with him, so real and so personal,              
he instructs us to consume him,
to take his flesh and blood into ours,
indeed, to digest his presence.        

His desire is to feed us, at the Table of his Supper,
with the same life he offered for us on the Altar of the Cross.

The issue in today’s gospel then isn’t  how or whether or not
the bread and wine become Christ’s body and blood.

Rather, this is about Christ’s desire for communion with us,
about Jesus’ desire to be one with us and to share in his life.
He says:

Here’s how close I want to be with you.
Just as your mother or father, your spouse or close friend
might lay down their life for you,
so did I lay down my life for you- so much do I love you.

• I gave away my life for you on the Cross,
but I wanted to be with you, always,
so in the communion of my Table
I give myself to you again and again:
my Body broken for you in the Bread,
my Blood poured out for you in the Cup,
because I want to remain with you and in you 
- and I want you to remain in me and with me.

• As the Bread you eat and the Cup you drink become one with you,
so I become one with you.
I give my life, laid down for you on the Cross
to feed and nourish you every time you come to my Table.
How real is Christ’s presence in the Eucharist?
- as real as God’s word of promise to us
- as real as a soul mate’s commitment
- as real as forgiveness healing a broken bond
- as real as the love Jesus showed us on the Cross
- as real as the bread and wine we place on this altar
- as real as the power of God’s Spirit to make of our simple gifts
the gift Christ offered for us on the Cross:
his Body and Blood, his life.

• In the Eucharist we share communion not only with Jesus
but also with one another.
When we receive the Eucharist
Christ calls us to break open our lives, like bread, for others
and to pour out ourselves, like wine, in serving others               
as he was broken and poured out for us on the Cross.

In the 4th century, when people were asking,
 “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
St. Augustine gave them this answer.  He wrote:
What you see is the bread and the chalice;
that is what your own eyes report to you.
But what your faith obliges you to accept
is that the bread is the Body of Christ
and the chalice the Blood of Christ. ...
How is the bread his Body?
 And what is in the chalice  -  how is it his Blood?
Those elements, brothers and sisters, are called sacraments,
because in them one thing is seen, but another is understood.
What is seen is the corporeal species
but what is understood is the spiritual fruit ...

We all know that Christ is present in the Tabernacle,
that the Tabernacle is a dwelling place for Jesus in the Eucharist.
At Communion time today, this church will be filled
with living tabernacles – each of us a dwelling place,
holding the Body and Blood of Christ within us.

- Are we ready for such union, such intimacy with Jesus?
- Do we desire such a personal relationship
with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?
- Do we want to be this close to him?
- Do we want him to be this close to us?
- Are we ready to break and pour out our lives, our selves, for others
as Christ did for us?
- Do we want him to remain in us?
- Do we want to remain in him?

If this is what we want there is no better way to find it
than to be faithful to the sacrament of this table,
the table that Christ, in his wisdom, sets for us here.
For here we will find nothing less than the Body and Blood of Christ,
offered as food for our spirit,
in a morsel of Bread, a sip from the Cup.

For his flesh is true food, and his blood is true drink.
This is the bread that came down from heaven…
and whoever eats this bread will live forever.


Subscribe to A Concord Pastor Comments 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please THINK before you write
and PRAY before you think!