Friday, August 14, 2015

20th Sunday Yr B (Gospel: John 6:51-58) The Eucharist is the source of our life

During the time our economy was booming there were more jobs around and everyone was happy about that.  Yet in spite of those better times economically people didn’t seem to be much happier. There was more pressure on people to ‘succeed’, people had less and less time for the ordinary things.  Everyone seemed to be mad busy trying to get money.  The rate of suicide increased and so did the rate of crime.  What was wrong?  We thought we finally had it all together.

We’re experts at looking after the body, but most people are extremely ignorant when it comes to looking after the spirit, or soul and we are body and soul.  As a result, no amount of money or work, or the right house or car, will bring us happiness, because there is an emptiness inside us that material things cannot fill and will never fill.  This is the spiritual side of ourselves which can only be fulfilled by what is spiritual.  Sometimes it takes a death, or serious illness, to make us wake up to this.  We will only be fulfilled in God because God has created us this way. In a way this is a wonderful thing because it reminds us that we are not just animals, but completely different creatures with spiritual as well as physical needs. That’s what it means in the book of Genesis when it says that Adam looked among the animals for a suitable helpmate, but none could be found. We are completely different. What is often referred to as ‘midlife crisis’ refers to this. Hopefully we have achieved a lot at that stage and then we begin to wonder what is the purpose of it all. Maybe I have my family, my house and my job, but there still can be an emptiness within us because we know that there is much more to us than this. Something is missing and that is often the sense of what our life is about, which is the spiritual side of ourselves.

In today’s Gospel Jesus is talking about this very thing.  He says, ‘Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you will not have life in you.’  ‘You will not have life within you.’ ‘Whoever eats my flesh, will draw life from me.’  Jesus is telling us that this is where we will find fulfillment, in him whom we receive in the Eucharist, in Holy Communion and we believe that this is really Jesus we receive; not just a symbol or some kind of holy bread, but really and truly the Body and Blood of Christ. This is why Jesus is constantly inviting us to spend time with him and to receive him often; but we object, we don’t have time…  

When the Missionaries of Charity, founded by Mother Teresa, had just begun, there were only a few of them working together, but there was a huge amount of work to be done and they were finding it really hard to manage.  So they prayed to God and asked him to show them what they should do.  They felt that the Lord was telling them to spend an extra hour a day in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament; that is, an extra hour before the Blessed Sacrament and an hour less of work.  This didn’t make sense to them. They thought to themselves, ‘As it is we don’t have enough time to work, so how can we give an extra hour to prayer?’  However, since they really felt that this was what God was saying to them, they decided they would try to be obedient to it.  So they began to give an extra hour a day to adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and an hour less to work.   The interesting thing is that after a short time many more people began to join the order and soon they had lots of extra people to help them with the work.  God will never be outdone in generosity.  If you give time to God He will make it up to you. What could be more extraordinary than to receive the Body and Blood of the One who created us and this is what we are offered in each mass.

Finally, it is important to remember that while Jesus is humble enough to give himself to us in Holy Communion, we should be careful about how we approach him.  He has come for sinners and we are sinners.  But if we receive him often we should also confess our sins often.  God has given us the gift of Holy Communion, but He has also given us the gift of confession, so that we can be free of sin and so that we can approach him as we should, with humility.  This is one place where we cannot demand our rights, because before God we have no rights.  Everything from God is a gift.  So we should confess to a priest, especially if there is something serious that we have done and we cannot say that we have no sins.  St. John says in one of his letters: ‘If anyone says they have not sinned they are calling God a liar’ (1 John 1.10). This is God’s word.  If we feel emptiness within us, it is probably because our spirits are starving.  Jesus is the only one who can fulfill us.

‘I am the bread of life.  Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I in them.’

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