Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Body and Blood of Jesus Christ

The Body and Blood of Christ
June 18, 2017
Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14-16:; Psalm 147; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17; John 6:51-58

By faith, the Body and Blood of Christ are real food and drink for Catholics. John’s Gospel is clear that the followers of Jesus are to consume him if they are to have any part in his life. This is sustaining food, not merely a symbol, and it is the unifying power in Catholic worship because we believe it is the Lord Jesus nourishing us with his life as he relives his last night in Jerusalem.

While the Eucharist brings us into communion with one another, we have painful ways in which the Christian community remains apart, as we reflect upon the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Pope Francis is working hard at bringing the major Christian Churches together, - the Anglicans, Lutherans, and the Orthodox churches, and the Eucharist is a reminder that we still sit at different tables of belief. A feast that brings believers together reminds us that we long to become even more unified.

Many Catholics and Protestants have not reflected upon our similarities and differences with a discerning heart. We strive to be united because it is what the Lord wants for us, but we respect that our sets of belief are not in communion with each other. So, even though a Catholic may fully believe that the Lord is present in the Eucharist of a Lutheran mass, he or she has to reflect upon what receiving their sacrament means, not only for him or her, but for the larger community. It is not all about what a particular person wants or what feels good and right. It is about the community around the person that gathers for worship and what it means to the larger community of faith.

Our goal is unity, and we know that community takes a long time to build. We have to be patient about what develops silently and slowly. As one who is in a Catholic Eucharistic community, that person may not feel like much of anything happens to him or her when attending a single mass, but when receiving communion week after week and month after month with people who believe likewise, the person becomes changed – by the Eucharist and by the community. It is never just between you and the Lord; it is always about you, the Lord, and your local and larger church community.

The other day I was visiting the nursing home where my mother lives. After praying with her friend and receiving communion, my mother teared up. A non-verbal woman came with a tissue to wipe her tears away and to stroke her hand. Then another woman wheeled over to her and just smiled and they grabbed each other’s arms. Another woman lay back in her chair and just smiled at my mother causing my mother to smile back. The tears dried up and love permeated the room through simply gestures. This small community of grace understands the Eucharist because they understand that one of their community is in need, and they simply reach out in mercy.

Jesus gives himself to us in love through these actions. He wants us to be a part of him and he offers us his Body and Blood as a physical way of remaining strongly connected. St. Paul tells us that the loaf of bread is one, and we, though many, are one body, for we partake of the one loaf. So, it seems that we are to focus on those gestures of unity among us, rather than looking at what keeps us from union, and it comes through the way we offer hospitality.

At every mass I celebrate, I want everyone to come forward, regardless of their faith tradition, so they can receive a blessing from the Lord. In no way do I want any person to feel awkward or separated because even though we worship at separate tables, we can pray together. Come forward. I want to touch the outreached hand of the person who is in need. I want to listen and understand. I want to share with them the love of Jesus Christ because that is all I have to give.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (2 Corinthians) Do not receive the grace of God in vain. Cause no one to stumble; rather, commend ourselves as ministers of the Lord. Behold, now is the time of salvation.  
Tuesday: (2 Corinthians) Grace was given the churches of Macedonia in their severe test of affliction. They responded in generosity and joy. They excelled in the faith in every respect.
Wednesday: (2 Corinthians) Whoever sows bountifully, reaps bountifully. God loves a cheerful giver and is able to make every grace abundant for you.
Thursday: (2 Corinthians) Paul is afraid their thoughts have become corrupted from a sincere and pure commitment to Christ. Be cautious of those who preach a different Jesus Christ than the one I taught you.   
Friday (Deuteronomy 7) You are a people sacred to the Lord; he has chosen you to be a people peculiarly his own. The Lord set his heart upon you and chose you.
Saturday (Isaiah 49) The Lord called me from birth, from my mother’s womb. I will make you a light to the nations; my salvation shall reach the ends of the earth.

Monday: (Matthew 5) They say, “offer an eye for an eye,” but offer no resistance for one who is evil. Give to the one who asks of you and do not turn your back on the borrower. 
Tuesday: (Matthew 5) They say, “love your neighbor and hate your enemy,” but love your enemy as you love yourself. Be perfect as God is perfect.
Wednesday (Matthew 6) Do not perform righteous deeds in order that others may see them.  What you do in secret, will be seen by God in secret.
Thursday (Matthew 6) When praying, do not babble like the pagans. When you pray, say, “Our Father, who is in heaven.”
Friday (1 John 4) Jesus takes the commandments and gives them a strict interpretation. For instance, adultery is more than a clinical act; it even includes silent lusting.
Saturday (Luke 1) When Elizabeth’s son was born, it came time to name the boy. The townsfolk thought he would be named Zechariah, but he said, “His name is John.”

Saints of the Week

June 19: Romuald, abbot (950-1027), was born into a family of dukes from Ravenna and became known for founding the Camaldolese Benedictine order that combined the solitary life of hermits into a monastic community life. He founded other hermitages and monasteries throughout Italy.

June 21: Aloysius Gonzaga, S.J., priest (1568-1591), gave up a great inheritance to join the Jesuits in 1585 in his dreams of going to the missions. However, when a plague hit Rome, Gonzaga served the sick and dying in hospitals where he contracted the plague and died within three months. He is a patron saint of youth.

June 22: Paulinus of Nola, bishop (353-431) was a prominent lawyer who married a Spaniard and was baptized. Their infant son died while in Spain. He became a priest and was sent to Nola, near Naples, where he lived a semi-monastic life and helped the poor and pilgrims.

June 22: John Fisher, bishop and martyr (1469-1535) taught theology at Cambridge University and became the University Chancellor and bishop of Rochester. Fisher defended the queen against Henry VIII who wanted the marriage annulled. Fisher refused to sign the Act of Succession. When the Pope made Fisher a cardinal, the angry king beheaded him.

June 22: Thomas More, martyr (1478-1535) was a gifted lawyer, Member of Parliament, scholar, and public official. He was reluctant to serve Cardinal Woolsey at court and he resigned after he opposed the king’s Act of Succession, which would allow him to divorce his wife. He was imprisoned and eventually beheaded.

Friday: The Sacred Heart of Jesus is set on the Friday following Corpus Christi. The heart of Jesus is adored as a symbol of divine, spiritual, and human love. Its devotion grew during the Middle Ages and was transformed in the 17th century when Mary Margaret Alocoque and her Jesuit spiritual director, Claude La Colombiere, reinvigorated the devotion.

Saturday: The Immaculate Heart of Mary began as a devotion in the 17th century. In 1944, the feast was extended to the Western Church. Her heart signifies her sanctity and love as the Mother of God.

June 24: Nativity of John the Baptist (first century) was celebrated on June 24th to remind us that he was six months older than Jesus, according to Luke. This day also serves to remind us that, as Christ is the light of the world, John must decrease just as the daylight diminishes. John’s birth is told by Luke. He was the son of the mature Elizabeth and the dumbstruck Zechariah. When John was named, Zechariah’s tongue was loosened and he sang the great Benedictus.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Jun 18, 1804. Fr. John Roothan, a future general of the Society, left his native Holland at the age of seventeen to join the Society in White Russia.
·      Jun 19, 1558. Fr. Lainez, the Vicar General, summoned the opening of the First General Congregation, nearly two years after the death of Ignatius. Some trouble arose from the fact that Fr. Bobadilla thought himself entitled to some share in the governance. Pope Paul IV ordered that the Institute of the Society should be strictly adhered to.
·      Jun 20, 1626. The martyrdom in Nagasaki, Japan, of Blesseds Francis Pacheco, John Baptist Zola, Vincent Caun, Balthasar De Torres, Michael Tozo, Gaspar Sadamatzu, John Kinsaco, Paul Xinsuki, and Peter Rinscei.
·      Jun 21, 1591. The death of St Aloysius Gonzaga, who died from the plague, which he caught while attending the sick.
·      Jun 22, 1611. The first arrival of the Jesuit fathers in Canada, sent there at the request of Henry IV of France.
·      Jun 23, 1967. Saint Louis University's Board of Trustees gathered at Fordyce House for the first meeting of the expanded Board of Trustees. SLU was the first Catholic university to establish a Board of Trustees with a majority of lay members.
Jun 24, 1537. Ignatius, Francis Xavier, and five of the companions were ordained priests in Venice, Italy.