Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Eucharist: it is real (Sunday homily)

Just as people murmured--when Jesus said, “I am the bread of life,”
so too do people “murmur” when, as Catholics, we say,
the Eucharist is truly and really God--
the real, true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

People will say, “oh, they mean it’s a symbol of Christ.”

No, that’s not what we mean.

We mean what we say--because we mean what our Lord said.

We believe that during the Mass, when the priest is at the altar,
and he speaks the words of Jesus, Jesus acts through the priest;
and the bread and wine are changed into him--
his Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

Now, we might murmur, but it doesn’t look like flesh and blood--
come on, it’s still bread and wine!

There are two several
* points to make about that.

Realize that our Faith is premised on miracles. 
If we don't believe in miracles, go home! Christianity is a waste of time.
For our Faith to be true, at least two miracles must be true:
First, that God united with a human nature in Mary's womb; 
and second, after he died on the Cross, he rose from the dead.

So to be a Christian is to believe in miracles--
including the miracle of the Eucharist.
First, So believing this is a matter of believing Jesus.
Either you believe his words or you don’t.

Second, the way our Lord does this makes perfect sense
when you think about it.

Jesus tells us: you must eat my flesh and drink my blood.
He is the true Lamb of God.
On the Cross, he will be the offering, the Lamb of Sacrifice.
The thing is, when Jesus says, “take and eat,”
he’s giving you and me a choice.

We can stand apart from his suffering and death--
and instead, stand on our own merits.
Or, by sharing in the sacrifice,
we become part of him--and he with us.

If all you think you’re eating is bread and wine--
what’s valuable about that? How does that save you?

But when you know it’s the crucified body of the Lord--
when you know it’s the Blood shed on the Cross you put to your lips…
How can that not shatter our world?

The Eucharist makes no sense if it’s not his true Body and Blood.
As the writer Flannery O’Connor said,
“if it’s a symbol, then to hell with it!”

Yet it keeps the taste and appearance of bread and wine.
Or would you prefer the alternative?

You might be interested to know that, from time to time,
That has happened. There are many well attested miracles,
where the bread and wine really did turn to flesh and blood--
because people would murmur and scoff and say, it’s not real.

It is real.

We might wish the Lord would do more such miracles.
In fact, there have been a lot of Eucharistic miracles.
But remember what he said:
even if one were to be raised from the dead, they will not believe.

The Lord gives us his Body and Blood not to convince us,
but to sustain us, like Elijah, for our journey.
In the words of St. Therese, the Little Flower,
“the best means to reach perfection
is through receiving Holy Communion frequently.”

* The parts in red were not in my text, but I added while delivering this homily.

No comments: