21st Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

     Jos 24:1-2A, 15-17, 18B/PS 34:2-3, 16-17, 18-19, 20-21/Eph 5: 2A, 25-32/Jn6:60-90

     Do you believe the Bible to be true? Do you take Jesus at His word? Jesus tells us that we must eat His body and Drink His blood to have eternal life and so to be Christians, to be followers of Christ, we must profess that the Eucharist which we are about to consume is Jesus Himself, not some representation, some symbol or some simple remembrance, but Jesus Himself. Just after saying that we must eat His body and drink His blood, St. John recounts that many of Jesus’ disciples left Him and returned to their former way of life. If Jesus were just speaking figuratively don’t you think He would have called back those who were leaving Him saying something like “hold on, I was just speaking figuratively, it’s not really my body, it only symbolizes my body.” Well Jesus says what He means and means what He says. Today are confronted with the truth that the bread and wine, which will be brought up in a few short moments, will cease to be bread and wine and through the power of Christ Himself will become the Body and Blood of Christ. Are we going to run away with the others or take Jesus at His word and fall to our knees and profess our faith. If we take Jesus at His word and believe He is truly present in the Eucharist then doesn’t it demand a practical response in our lives?

     There is a tradition in the Catholic Church that a priest’s parents give him a chalice, the cup that is used to hold the precious blood at Mass, as an ordination gift. My mom, knowing that the chalice actually holds God Himself, insisted that she buy me the nicest chalice she could find. While I was shopping around, out of nowhere a box arrived for me at the seminary. When I opened the box I found a gorgeous 100 year old chalice and a note offering me the chalice with a request that the donors remain anonymous. Wanting the best care for the chalice I decided to send it the experts in New York to have it appraised and to have a family diamond attached to it. Not wanting to risk anything and unable to insure it without an appraisal I decided to fly with it to New York, to visit the store. I wrapped the chalice in a few fleece blankets and locked it in securely to my carry on case. Since I’m privileged to have Global Entry I thought nothing about going through security with it so tightly wrapped but, unfortunately TSA became suspicious of my bag, because of how it was packed, so they made me take out the chalice. The sight of the shinning gold cup with rubies on it caught the glimpse of the person in line after me and he asked me how I could spend so much money on a cup when there are so many starving people in the world. As I packed the chalice up and walked to my gate I continued the discussion by agreeing with him that all Christians need to do more to relieve the physical sufferings of others, but that we as Catholics believe the Eucharist is truly the Body and Blood of Christ. Since Jesus Himself will dwell in this cup I told him that it only made sense that the chalice should be best that money can buy. After all doesn’t it make perfect sense that since Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist, we should only use precious metals to hold Him? While Jesus will come and rest on the vessels of gold and silver, He will also come to dwell inside of us as well. If we should only use the finest materials to hold Jesus on the altar, then shouldn’t our bodies be the most pure possible receive Jesus?

     St. Paul reminds us that, “whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup,” [1] With this exhortation in mind, the Church reminds Catholics that they should not receive Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin. That is to say if we have committed a grave sin, that we knew was wrong, and we did it freely, we should not receive Communion until that sin is forgiven in the sacrament of Confession.

     While it is certainly sad when Catholics receive Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin it pains me just as much to see Catholics stay away from Communion when often times their situation can be rectified. Pope Francis has called for a year of Mercy, a year for us to come and experience the healing and forgiveness that God extends to His people in the Church. Perhaps you find yourself in a state of mortal sin and unable to get to the scheduled times for Confession, well call me and we will set up a time that works for you. Perhaps you find yourself hearing all this talk in the news surrounding the Synod in Rome about the Church and divorce and you find yourself in that situation. Well rather than listening to what non-Catholics are saying on the news, why not meet with me? While I can’t solve every problem I can promise you that I will listen to you without judgment and then do everything in my power and use every tool at my disposal to help rectify any situation you find yourself in.

     Jesus is a straight shooter and He is clear, unless we eat His Flesh and drink His Blood we cannot have eternal life. Every time we receive Holy Communion God literally comes to dwell inside of us. Are we prepared to receive Him? If not what do we need to do to be able to receive that essential spiritual nourishment?

[1] 1 Cor 11:27-28

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