Saturday, August 8, 2009

19th Sunday, Ordinary Time: "I am the bread of life."

1 Kings 19, 4-8; Psalm 34; Ephesians 4, 30-5, 2; St. Johnn 6, 41-51

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

"How could I bring a child into a world like this?" How many times have you heard such murmuring in hostility toward new life?

"What if I bring my child into the world only to see him rejected by his own people, spat upon, mocked, beaten, scourged, crowned with thorns, stripped of his garments and then crucified like a common criminal?" Mary could very well have responded to Gabriel's announcement of the Incarnation in just this way. But, as our Lady knows, every child is a sign of God's will that life should go on.

The evil of the culture of death persists in the anti-life mentality which questions the right to life of every child and the duty of husband and wife to generously accept the gift of "children lovingly from God." (The Marriage Rite) This condition is pervasive because it is often insidiously disguised as good.

The culture of death thrives upon the widely held error that the evil in the world and the suffering it brings make life itself intolerable. But life is created by God and therefore always good, no matter how bruised by suffering or eclipsed by pain. Christ's Passion and death have given salvific meaning and spiritual wealth to our suffering. Men and women who forget they are created by the loving God of Eternal Life lose sight of the eternal human vocation to holiness and happiness with God himself. In an environment which does not lovingly and generously accept every human life as sacred the disease and sickness of the culture of death thrives and grows.

The Eucharist, the Body and Blood of our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, stands as the greatest sign of contradiction against the lies peddled today which spread the culture of death. The "Bread of Life", multiplied abundantly on the altars of the world to feed all mankind, calls all men to recognize their own dignity. All are are called to receive the flesh of Christ given for the life of the world and so reach beyond this world with its broken promises, sins and suffering, to the eternal joy of the wedding banquet of the Lamb.

"Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you." (John 6, 27) If we are in intimate communion with our Lord present in the Eucharist, then we are inoculated against the peddlers of death with their abortion, abortifacient contraception, infanticide, unchaste sex education and euthanasia, the arsenal of the culture of death which has declared outright war upon God and human life. The members of our society who tolerate the abomination of anti-life policies and practices are in love with their own shadow in monstrous self-absorption and condemn themselves to eternal death. Christians are called to turn away from selfishness in order to focus upon the image of Christ in the Eucharist; to be led not into the temptation of false hopes and empty promises, but to eternal life itself.

We labor "for the food which endures to eternal life" when we reverently and frequently receive the Bread of Life, and then go forth bravely and calmly into the world with its murder-sprees, rampant infanticide and glorification of perversion with hope, confident that, as Christ promised, "I have overcome the world." And we overcome the world with him, we share in his victory, as we adore and receive him in the Eucharist with a clear conscience. We look forward to the life of heaven to come in and through the Eucharist. By this divine gift we are in communion with the Paschal Lamb whom we receive and who continually unites us to himself and the Father in heaven.

"In an ancient prayer the Church acclaims the mystery of the Eucharist: 'O sacred banquet in which Christ is received as food, the memory of his Passion is renewed, the soul is filled with grace and a pledge of the life to come is given to us.' If the Eucharist is the memorial of the Passover of the Lord Jesus, if by our communion at the altar we are filled 'with every heavenly blessing and grace,' (Roman Missal, Roman Canon 96: Supplices te rogamus) then the Eucharist is also an anticipation of the heavenly glory." (CCC1402)

Children are brought into the world according to God's plan and design in order to share the life of grace forever with him in glory. This is true despite all the evils which may threaten our lives but which can never harm our souls. "I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh." (John 6, 51) The gift of God's flesh and blood is a living and divine sign that life should go on forever and ever and ever. Begin eternity today by kneeling in worship of our Incarnate God present in all the tabernacles of the world.

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy", Father Cusick

(See also number 1001 in the CCC.)

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy (Publish with permission.)

(Art: Feeding of the Multitude, Limbourg brothers, before 1416, illumination. Musée Condé, Chantilly, from "Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry", courtesy of Christus Rex.)

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