Saturday, August 18, 2012

TWENTIETH Sunday: "how can this man give us his flesh to eat?"

Proverbs 9, 1-6; Psalm 34; Ephesians 5, 15-20; St. John 6, 51-58

"Who does this pope think he is? He's becoming a real problem! He has nothing to say to me." "Who do those Catholics think they are, trying to tell me how to live my life? It's my body, it's my decision!" "I don't care what the priest says, it's just a piece of bread!"

The Gospel of John, chapter 6, verse 52, relates that when Jesus taught the crowd that his very flesh is the true bread that has come down from heaven, the "Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, 'how can this man give us his flesh to eat?' " There are many who murmur today in protest, who quarrel amongst themselves and who dispute against Christ and the truth which he teaches for our salvation.

Today Christ present in his Church is attacked by the murmuring of those who have declared themselves their own magisterium, reserving to themselves the authority to decide what is true and false. Today many murmur in protest against the Holy Father, chosen by Christ and given the particular assistance of the Holy Spirit to lead us "into all the truth." And today, just as we read in the account of almost 2,000 years ago, people murmur all the same in rebellion against Christ's teaching, "the bread that I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh." Many live in ignorance of this greatest gift of God to mankind, the fruit of the sacrifice of Calvary. Many reject Christ, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"

Jesus' words are clear. The people who heard his preaching at the beginning could not mistake his meaning. He meant in no uncertain terms that, if one is to receive His life eternally in the kingdom, then one must begin now to receive the Body and Blood which he poured out unto death at Calvary in the Eucharist, first instituted through the Apostles on the first Holy Thursday and faithfully handed down in the Church. And when some of his own beloved people rejected him, Christ did not change is teaching or water it down, he watched them leave with sadness. He made them free out of love, and out of love he preserved their freedom to reject him and lose their salvation.

The Church teaches today as Christ did, without change or dilution: "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood you have no life in you." Some walk away. But the Church must remain faithful to her Lord. She cannot change the truth, and in the power of the Holy Spirit remains firm in this truth. St. Justin, of the second century, testifies to the ancient faith of the Church:

"Because this bread and wine have been made Eucharist" ('eucharisted' according to an ancient expression), "we call this food Eucharist, and no one may take part in it unless he believes that what we teach is true, has received baptism for the forgiveness of sins and new birth, and lives in keeping with what Christ taught." (CCC 1355)

God is "with us", Emmanuel, in Christ Jesus our Lord who promises, "I will be with you always, even until the end of the world". He keeps this promise in the Eucharist. Let us praise, worship, love and adore him in the sacred Host, now in our Churches and in the sacred Liturgy, looking forward to our eternal communion with Father, Son and Holy Spirit in glory.

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

(See also paragraphs 787, 1001, 1384, 1391, 1406, 1524 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.)

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy(Publish with permission.)

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