Saturday, August 22, 2009

TWENTY-FIRST Sunday: "You have the words of Eternal Life"

Joshua 24, 1-2. 15-17. 18; Psalm 34; Ephesians 5, 21-32; St. John 6, 60-69

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

"Hocus pocus" is a popular expression in our culture to indicate magic powers and to enthrall an audience. We've all said the words and laughed in fun as we watch magic "tricks" and sleight of hand in entertainment. These words, unbeknownst to many people, actually come from a mocking phrase used in sacrilegious attack upon the holiest gift: the real presence of the Lord in the Eucharistic Sacrifice of the Mass.

The saying to which we refer originally went along these lines: "hocus pocus dominocus." Ring any bells? This is a mocking spoof of the Latin words for the consecration of the Mass: "Hoc est enim corpus meum. (This is my body.)" This is one of the many ways in which we can see that our culture is deeply imbued with anti-Catholic and anti-sacred sentiment.

In today's Gospel we read that, when Christ taught that he gave his flesh for the life of the world, "Many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, 'This is a hard saying; who can endure it?' " (John 6, 60)

Our Lord, the Gospel relates, "knew from the first who those were that did not believe, and who it was that should betray him." (John 6, 64) And what does he do as a result? Does he change his teaching in order to show his compassion? Instead he demonstrates authentic love by repeating the truth, realizing that doing so would shake the faith of many who had followed him. And the scriptures testify that "After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him." (John 6, 66) Rather than changing his teaching, which is the truth and therefore can never be changed, Christ turns to those upon whom the fate of the infant Church will rest and asks them, "Will you also go away?" (John 6, 67)

The first announcement of the Eucharist divided the disciples, just as the announcement of the Passion scandalized them: "This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?" (John 6:60) The Eucharist and the Cross are stumbling blocks. It is the same mystery and it never ceases to be an occasion of division. "Will you also go away?" : (John 6: 67) the Lord's question echoes through the ages, as a loving invitation to discover that only he has "the words of eternal life" (John 6:68) and that to receive in faith the gift of his Eucharist is to receive the Lord himself. (CCC 1336)

The Eucharist is indeed the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ and this truth can never change. Today many find this stupendous reality a "stumbling block" and so reject Christ's teaching. The Lord is fully aware that many "murmur in protest" against his teaching and he leaves them free to do so. Let us pray that all mankind will receive the grace to become aware of the Lord's presence and to fall down in worship and awe in his presence. Let the whole world echo in unison with Peter: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the holy one of God." (John 6, 68-69)

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

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy Publish with permission

(See also paragraphs 438, 1336, 2766 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.)

Art: Ford Madox Brown, Jesus Washing Peter's Feet.

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