One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

August 20, 2006

For the Twentieth Ordinary Sunday of the Church Year

John 6:51-58

We could approach the entire Mass from beginning to end as one whole experience of the Gospel, the “good news” from Christ.
Nonetheless, there are four moments in the Mass that stand out as “Gospel moments”.
We just began one Gospel moment by standing and listening to “The Holy Gospel.”
This moment isn’t over yet, because we have yet to stand up and announce our Gospel faith by speaking the words of the Creed.
I’m referring to the Reading of the Holy Gospel and our speaking of the Creed as one, two-sided “Gospel moment.”
First Christ comes and speaks his Gospel, and then we stand and say, “We believe.”
The other three Gospel moments in the Mass also repeat or ask for the dialogue between God and us.
After the Gospel and the Creed, the second “Gospel moment” begins with the words we hear Christ speak in every Eucharist.
Take this, all of you, and eat it.
This is my body which will be given up for you.

Take this, all of you, and drink from it.
This is the cup of my blood,
the blood of the new and everlasting covenant.
It will be shed for you and for all,
so that sins may be forgiven.
Do this in memory of me.

These words of Christ, just like his Gospel, ask us to answer him.
He is offering his “new and everlasting covenant.”
A covenant!
A life-and-death, mutually binding agreement between two parties!
So, since Christ calls his Eucharist a “covenant,” we are not to merely “receive” it.
No, we are to enter it, agree to it, obey it.
Since Christ gives up his body and blood for us as a covenant, he expects us to risk our body and blood for him.
If we do not, then we are telling a lie by agreeing to eat his body and drink his blood.
The third “Gospel moment” in the Mass is the “Our Father.”
Christ taught it to us as part of his Gospel.
Even in the “Our Father,” the two-way dialogue continues.
We begin by committing to hallow or honor the holy Name of God, to acknowledge him and invite him to come as King, and to do his will on earth as it is done in heaven.
Having offered all that to God, the prayer then turns to ask him to do good for us: to feed us, to forgive us, to protect and preserve us.
The fourth and final Gospel moment— everything before prepares us for it.
Christ is ready for us, and really present in person, in his body and blood— though just looking like mere food and drink.
The Body of Christ … the Blood of Christ!
He expects us to say, “Amen!”
He calls it a COVENANT— a mutually binding, two-way agreement.
What’s in it for us?
The forgiveness of sins, the opening up of eternal life!
“Eternal life” is not merely a “never-ending story.”
Eternal life is a fullness and a fulfillment going beyond what we can imagine.
Our creaturely, human minds cannot begin to imagine what is contained in God giving himself to us to eat and drink.
Likewise, we cannot imagine the fullness and fulfillment of eternal life.
We can believe that God mysteriously gives it to us.
However, receiving that gift as a covenant means opening ourselves up to it and throwing ourselves into it.
God in Christ has opened himself up for us in suffering, death and resurrection.
He gives himself to us in his Body and Blood.
If we receive, we are to return the favor, for he commands it.
Do this in memory of me!

That God Be Glorified in All


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