June 18, 2017
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
First, Happy Father’s Day! This weekend we give thanks for our Dads and all those who have given us a father’s love. We also pray for them, that their love for their families may reflect the sacrificial and merciful love of our heavenly Father! May God bless them and inspire them always!
We also celebrate the Feast of The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. The Eucharist is given to us as a challenge and a promise. That’s how Jesus presents it in today’s Gospel. First, there’s the challenge. He doesn’t make it easy for His listeners who become repulsed and offended at His words. Jesus insists on describing the eating and drinking of His flesh and blood in starkly literal terms. Four times in today’s reading, Jesus uses the Greek word, trogein, meaning a crude kind of eating, almost a gnawing or chewing (John 6:54, 56, 57 and 58). He is testing their faith in His Word, as today’s First Reading describes God’s testing of Israel in the desert. There, the heavenly manna was not given to satisfy the Israelites’ hunger but to show them that they do not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. Just as there were Israelites in the desert who refused to believe and eat the miraculous manna and died in the desert, there will also be those who refuse to eat the life-giving Bread that Jesus gives.
Yes, just as the Israelites grumbled and were divided in the desert, so Jesus’ listeners in today’s Gospel cannot accept His Word and His gift. We are told in John 6:66, note the ominous number, that many of Jesus’ followers abandon Him after this discourse, this teaching. But we refuse to leave Jesus. As difficult as this teaching is, with St. Peter we proclaim, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
In the Eucharist, we are made one flesh with Christ. We have His life in us and have our life because of Him. This is what Paul means in today’s Epistle when he calls the Eucharist a participation in Christ’s Body and Blood. In this sacrament we become partakers of the divine nature. This is the mystery of faith that Jesus asks us to believe. To those who believe it, He gives the promise, that sharing in His resurrected flesh and blood, they too will be raised up on the last day! “Whoever eats this bread will live forever!” What a precious gift and promise! Glory to God!
Catechism Question of the Week: We are to have a childlike abandonment to the providence of our heavenly Father Who takes care of His children’s smallest needs. What must I do to avoid the anxieties of this world? (CCC 305)
With family, friends and those you meet, please discuss the following Question of the Week: In next weekend’s Gospel, Jesus tells His disciples to fear no one and not to be afraid. How do I put this into practice? Do I struggle with it?
In Christ’s Peace,