One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

+ + +

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

April 11, 2008

For Friday of the Third Week of Easter

John 6:52-59
Acts 9:1-20

The night Jesus first gave us to eat and drink Holy Communion in his Body and Blood, he himself ate and drank a holy communion of agony and death.
He agonized that night in prayer over holy communion with his Father’s will.
The next day he agonized unto death in holy communion with sinners.
True prayer and communion can be an agony of sadness, fear, pain, suffering, and death, not always peace and joy.
True prayer and communion can kill, before they come to new life.
In agonized prayer in the Gethsemane garden, in communion with the Father’s will, and in communion with sinners, Jesus suffered and died.
Saul of Tarsus had known of the agony of Jesus on the cross; but Saul looked on Jesus and the followers of Jesus as blasphemous enemies of the living, true God.
Near the city of Damascus, Jesus, God the Son, fell upon Saul with light from heaven, demanding, accusing, commanding, and leaving Saul blind.
After Jesus stormed him that day, Saul agonized for three days without sight, food, or drink.
Did he fear that he would never see again?
Did he tell himself, “This is my punishment for helping at the killing of Stephen, for hunting down the followers of Jesus, my punishment for persecuting Jesus who is the Son of God, Jesus who has left me blind.”
As if such agony were not enough, one of the Damascus Christians heard Jesus say, “I will show [Saul] what he will have to suffer for my name.”
On the road to Damascus, Saul suffered in light of Jesus, and would suffer even more for the name of Jesus.
Communion, prayer, agony, suffering, conversion, more suffering, and finally death— the combination is not what we would like to have from the hands of Jesus.
Yet, Jesus himself accepted it from the hands of the Father.
Jesus willingly ate and drank it, and he dished out the same for Saul of Tarsus.
In his Gospel today, Jesus also dishes out something that can be tolerated only by conversion: “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you DO NOT HAVE LIFE within you.”
Were it not for eating and drinking the Flesh and Blood of Jesus, his first followers would have just faded out, and Saul of Tarsus would not have needed to hunt them down for their blasphemy.
Without the Eucharistic Body and Blood of Jesus, all of Christianity would just have died out at the beginning.
Because of the Eucharistic Body and Blood of Jesus, Christianity is possible.
“Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you DO NOT HAVE LIFE within you.”
We know this Gospel, and we know that many of the disciples who heard it chose to give up on Jesus.
About two thousand years later, you and I are here, struggling to follow Jesus.
Not all who call themselves disciples of Jesus believe as we do that we really eat the real Flesh of Jesus, and that we really drink the real Blood of Jesus.
“Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you DO NOT HAVE LIFE within you.”
The Church has said the same in our time, at Vatican Council II [Sacrosanctum Concilium, 10]:
the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed;
it is also the fount from which all her power flows.
From the liturgy, therefore,
and especially from the Eucharist,
grace is poured forth upon us as from a fountain,
and the sanctification of men in Christ and the glorification of God... are achieved....

Because we eat the Flesh and drink the Blood of the Son of God, we have life within us, but we have it not merely for ourselves.
We have the life within us for the sake of God’s glory and the good of others.
That is why the Church is still here two thousand years later.
That is why the Church continues to be able to win converts for Jesus.
It is because Jesus lives in those who eat and drink his Flesh and Blood.
In spite of sickness, stupidity, and sin in the Church, the Flesh and Blood life of Jesus is in the Church.
Jesus blasted Saul with that truth on the road to Damascus.
“Saul, why are you persecuting ME?”
Saul was persecuting men and women whom Jesus counted as his own personal Flesh and Blood.
“Saul, why are you persecuting ME?”
We are sinners, and many see us as liars and fools.
Yet we are the Flesh and Blood of Jesus.
We eat and drink what look like wine and a thin wafer, yet we acknowledge them to be truly the Flesh and Blood of Jesus.
Things are not as they appear.
Agony, suffering, more suffering, death— they can all be the stuff of real conversion, real prayer, real communion with God.
Ask Saul at Damascus.
Ask Jesus and listen to him pray in the Gethsemane garden.
The agonies of Gethsemane and Golgotha opened the way for the ecstasies of rising from the dead.
“Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.”

That God Be Glorified in All


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am thrilled to have happened upon your website. As someone who attends mass at Prince of Peace at least 4 times a week (you would recoginize me if you saw me), I want to thank the whole community for opening your doors to the public. Prince of Peace is an integral part of my life and the high point of my day when I can attend.

It is also an all to infrequent pleasure to hear you say mass... Your reverance, piety, devotion and knowledge are inspiring and humbling at the same time. It is especially intersting to hear you preach on John's Gospel. (The Gospel of John is all the proof I need as to the existance of God, because there is NO WAY anyone else could have written that book -but that's another story!)

This homily, as do all of your homilies, ask pointed questions which force us look at ourselves and our actions in ways we often times try to avoid because we may not like what we find.

In this particular homily -which impacted me when you preached it- I realized that I do indeed persecute the Lord...every day, many times a day. As you said, I am (we) a sinner as well as a fool for continuing to sin when I know it is wrong and when God tells me it bad for me. In some form(s) or another I fall well short of what God indended for me. I persecute Him and drive the nails deeper into His flesh by every sin I commit. It is because of this that I attend mass as frequently as possible, beg for His mercy before the Blessed Sacrament and receive the Eucharist...that His body and blood will help to transform me into the person I want to be and am capable of being. Without the Eucharist I don't stand a chance.

At any rate, I again want to thank you for your beautiful masses and for allowing the public to share in the communities services. It means more than you may realize. It would be a pleasure to shake your hand after mass sometime should come outside.

May God Bless You.

10:05 AM  
Anonymous Aaron Magnan said...

Your point of the necessity of the Eucharist for Christianity to be possible is evident in all of those who attempt to everything except for the Eucharist and fail miserably in their propensity toward the Truth (protestants, woman-priest sects, etc...). Ain't no substitute for it.

12:58 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home