This was one of those weekends where I never wrote down my homily. What follows is my best effort to recall the main points -- I didn't necessarily do it the same way at each of the four Masses...
As I reflected on the first reading -- on Peter, as he stood up so courageously, despite the great risk, a question came to mind, which I'll share with you: why did Peter -- and the rest of the Apostles -- place their faith in a crucified Savior? If they can kill him, how can he be God? How can he be the Messiah? After all, that's what many said at the cross: come down from that cross, then we'll believe in you.
We know that Peter's faith was shaken when Jesus was arrested, and so for all the apostles. But they didn't despair, as Judas did. Why?
As I thought about that, I recalled an episode described in John chapter 6, where our Lord was telling people about the Eucharist, that it would be his true Body and Blood, and there were people who couldn't accept that. And so they left him. Jesus turned to the Apostles and said, are you going to leave me too? And Peter replied, no Lord, because you have the words of everlasting life.
That, I think, is why Peter believed in Jesus: he spoke words of eternal life (and I wonder if Judas didn't believe that; and so he gave up).
One of the things I like to do is read about science topics; not that I am any kind of expert, but I want to learn more. And I've been reading about scientists who claim -- very seriously -- that they may be in the verge of making discoveries that would dramatically lengthen human life. Hold onto your hats: they claim by hundreds of years!
And we've all seen the movie stars and celebrities that are as old as Methuselah and they try to pretend they are in their 30s; and after awhile, it just becomes silly. See, there are people who think this life is all their is, so they're trying to make it go on and on. That inspires them; but the prospect of this life going on and on fills me with despair. I want more than just this life, endlessly. And we all hunger for that: for eternal life.
Eternal life isn't just this life, forever; it's the fullness of life. So when people do extreme things, they climb mountains and jump out of planes and ride roller coasters and try to eat and taste everything, they are expressing that longing. But this life is only a foretaste. Of eternal life.
Jesus has the words of eternal life -- above all, in the Eucharist. We hear those words of everlasting life spoken: "This is my Body" and "This is my Blood." The Eucharist is the food of everlasting life.
Last week, when I spoke about the Eucharist, I quoted something many of the saints said; and I hoped it would get you thinking: "God became man so that men might become God." And that's just another way of saying what John the Apostle said in the second reading: see what love the Father bestows on us, in calling us "children of God."
(Here I illustrated how we, as children, bear a likeness to our parents. I told the story of a man who approached me on a street in downtown Cincinnati some years back, asking me if I was "Rose Ann Dehoney's son." And I was -- but that's my mother's maiden name, and this man hadn't seen her since before she was married; which was over 30 years prior. Yet he recognized me as her son! And I talked about how we take on the attributes of our parents; and we all become our parents!)
So when we say we become "children of God"--that means we are like God, we love what God loves, we have life with God. And it is the Eucharist that brings us there. Not just one time, but week after week, even every day, all through our lives.
(I might add, the 11 am Mass was First Communion, so I tailored this toward the children and their families more at that Mass than the others. And I don't recall just how I moved to the conclusion, but I mentioned how it's the Good Shepherd who does all this -- laying down his life to give us his flesh and blood in the Eucharist, so that we can become children of God. And I talked about how a lifetime of receiving the Eucharist leads us to what the Apostle John also said: we don't know what we shall later be -- and I cited how we really can't see the true reality of the Mass -- yet we know that we shall be like him because we shall see him as he is! And I talked about how, when we close our eyes the last time, if we've been seeking Jesus all our lives, and receiving the Eucharist, we open our eyes in eternity, and "we see Him! As he is!")