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Homilies by Father Jaimon Dominic » Notes » Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2018

  • Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2018

    Posted by Mary Wilson August 19, 2018 - Category: Spirituality - 489 views - 0 comments - 0 likes - #Eucharist  #Jesus  #Real Presence 

    Many Christians find it hard to understand the justifications that have been offered for some of the major controversies and divisions that have harmed the unity of the one church of Lord Jesus Christ. Here are some of such justifications. The separation between the Greek and the Latin churches occurred because of disagreement over whether the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son (the Greek position) or from the Father and the Son (the Latin position). The Protestant Reformation was anchored on the conviction that one is justified by faith alone as opposed to the Catholic position that one is justified by faith expressed in good works. Many Christian churches are still divided because of disagreement over the manner in which Jesus is present in the Eucharistic bread. Some think he is physically present, others think he is spiritually present, and yet others that he is only symbolically present. All agree on the fact that the Eucharistic bread is the body of Christ but they disagree on the manner in which this mystery occurs.

    In today’s gospel Jesus focuses on the fact that the bread of the Eucharistic is indeed himself but does not say a word on the process whereby this identity between the bread and himself takes place. Why then would Christians, who all believe in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharistic, distance themselves from one another because of disagreement on how this happens? One would have thought that what unites them, their common belief that the bread of the Eucharist is the body of Christ, should be more important than what separates them, their different ways of explaining the manner in which this takes place.

    Image via ccSearch/Flickr/Richard 1952

    "Take this, all of you, and eat; this is my body… Take this, all of you, and drink from it; this is the cup of my blood…" Imagine a complete stranger to our liturgy coming in and hearing those words! Two dimensions of Jewish worship provide the context of today’s Gospel. When an animal was sacrificed on the temple altar, part of the meat was given to worshipers for a feast with family and friends, at which God was honored as the unseen “Guest.”  It was even believed by some that God entered into the flesh of the sacrificed animal, so that when people rose from the feast they believed they were literally “God-filled.” In Jewish thought, blood was considered the vessel in which life was contained: as blood drained away from a body so did its life.  The Jews, therefore, considered blood sacred, as belonging to God alone.  In animal sacrifices, blood was ritually drained from the carcass and solemnly “sprinkled” upon the altar and the worshipers by the priest as a sign of being touched directly by the “life” of God. With this understanding John summarizes his theology of the Eucharist, Jesus is the pascal lamb which is offered.

    Similarly, speaking of the presence of Christ in the Eucharist could be seen as an understatement. Jesus Christ is not merely present in the Blessed Sacrament, as if one could break the consecrated host and find Christ hidden inside it, rather the Blessed Sacrament is Jesus Christ himself. It is not so much a question of presence as that of identity. That is why it baffles some Christians to learn that Christians down the centuries have fought and killed one another over the question of Jesus’ presence in the Blessed Sacrament when Jesus himself did not tell us that he is present in the Sacrament but that he is the bread of the Eucharist.

    Several liberal Catholic friends told me that believing in all of the dogmas and doctrines of the Church really wasn’t all that necessary for them to become a Catholic. They said, “Just believe what you believe and everything will be OK because Jesus is a God of love and He’ll understand”.  To these people, ‘sincerity’ is the only thing that counts—just be sincere. I looked at these people and said, “You mean to tell me that all someone need to be a true catholic, is just be sincere”?  I also told them that Adolph Hitler was sincere—he sincerely thought that any Jew or gypsy or any person of color—anyone not of Aryan stock was vermin who needed to be exterminated.  There has to be more than just sincerity to be true follower of Jesus—there has to be.

    I also asked these same people if they believed in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. A few said ‘yes’ but most of these people said that it really didn’t matter what one believes about the Real Presence.  After all, they said, it’s just a matter of being true to yourself.  In addition, to a person, they didn’t feel that it was a ‘good idea’ to stress the RealPresence in front of non-Catholics. Ecumenism, you know!

    Dear friends, how do you see the Eucharist?  Is it the center of your life?  Do you really believe that Jesus is actually present?  If you truly believe that Jesus is God, you do.  Remember, Jesus cannot lie and He told us that He is really present. As we receive communion today, let us be conscious that we are receiving Jesus Christ himself and let us open our hearts to receive the new life that he brings to us. For he promised “Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me” (verse57).