Reality: Homily for the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, June 18, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

The readings today take great pains to reinforce a particularly important type of reality.  When we think of real, we often think, or many people think, of the scientific world, based upon observation and fact.  And while this is a good and noble way to learn about truth, the way things are, it is not the only way.  There is another type of reality, a way of seeing that equally seeks the truth.  And often these truths are the higher level truths, because they are the truths that do not rest on human reason (though they are reasonable) but upon the spiritual revelation of God which is always real and true, and will always be real and true.

What we celebrate today is just such a truth.  There is with the Eucharist what we see — the host and the wine — and what is really and truly present, the Body and Blood of Christ.  To drive home this point, the gospel of John uses really down to earth terms.  Real terms.  Which causes the listeners to be quite perplexed as to what Jesus means.  John uses the word flesh, not just a symbol of the flesh, or a sign, or a recreation, but rather something real and true.  So today, receive Jesus, body and blood, soul and divinity, at Mass.

Homily for Sunday, August 16, 2015

Readings for Today

I suspect all of us have had the occasion to have our eyes tested for vision and other things. It is important, because being able to see clearly is important. Since I have, on both sides of my family, a history of Glaucoma in the family, I get a battery of such tests each year. While they are not difficult or painful tests, they do serve as a reminder of how precious the gift of sight is, and how many threats there can be to seeing well. Having had to use reading glasses for the past couple of years, I am reminded even more often of the importance of being able to see clearly.

Today’s readings show the importance of seeing clearly in another way. That is, just as we may need glasses to see clearly, at the same time, to gain understanding it matters how we see something. Things may not be what they appear if we do not see something clearly. Just as a person may need glasses or contacts to make things visible, so too we learn today that a person needs wisdom to see things clearly.

The “glasses” of faith are used when we engage Wisdom. The definition I have always found helpful for wisdom is this: wisdom is seeing as God sees. The reason I like this definition is that so much of what we do and know in life only really makes sense when we consider how God views things. If we do not consider that human beings are made in God’s image and likeness, it becomes easy to throw them away.

Simply put, as a Christian, we seek to be “people of wisdom” all of the time, seeing the world with the “glasses” of faith. So much becomes possible when we do so. And areas of faith, the way of living life, is only possible in reference to a lived relationship with God. Otherwise we struggle to understand.

This lack of seeing as God sees makes the encounter we read in today’s gospel more clear and real. The words of the gospel take on a greater starkness when we understand their meaning in the original language. The Greek John uses in his gospel can be call “earthy.” What that means is that not all of the vocabulary of John is abstract, but is rather easy to understand.

Take the word “flesh” which we hear in today’s gospel when Jesus says he gives us his flesh to eat. This is no metaphorical word he uses, such as when Paul uses the word body in referring to us, God’s people, as the body of Christ. No, Jesus means flesh, as the Greek work is sarx, which means flesh. That is everything it sounds. Using this word makes Jesus sound irrational at best.

But it is not just the use of the word we translate as flesh. When Jesus speaks about eating, the term used in Greek connotes gnawing, or munching, on the flesh of Jesus. This is quite the experience we are discussing. And so it is not unreasonable to see that many quarrel with these words of Jesus. He is a crazy man, one who might be best to avoid.

Unless we see with the eyes of faith. With faith, flesh becomes the Eucharist, and munching is more than physical. Seeing things in faith, we are then invited over and over again to remember that receiving the Eucharist is something that is meant to stay with us all the day long. The presence of Jesus sacramentally reminds us that over and over again we are invited into the great banquet where Jesus draws us deeper into a relationship of deep fulfillment.

Seeing with the eyes of faith, and thinking of the presence of Jesus as a day long invitation, is also to make the words of the first reading real for each one of us. “Wisdom has built her house.” And that house is nothing less than our hearts. It is the human heart that God chooses as a dwelling, because it it the human heart that is able to be filled with the love of God.

And so it is complete. Seeing the human heart as God’s home, seeing the Eucharist as the invitation to know that God is always present is the powerful reminder that God wants to give each one of us today. Taste, See, Touch, feel the goodness of God. Allow the glasses of faith to open clearer and clearer visions of what God wants us to do.

Even Saint Paul who writes today’s second reading seeks to help us. His commands are easily understood. “Watch carefully how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise, making the most of the opportunity.” He invites us to “understand what is the will of the Lord“, and to “be filled with the Spirit.” In many ways we are invited to munch on the word of God as well. Psalms, hymns and inspired songs make for the interaction that is best for Christians.

This is what we do each Sunday when we celebrate Mass. We seek to use Mass as that way we use to see more clearly the things necessary for faith. By centering ourselves here, in this house, we are more able to discover the deep connections that are available to us because of God. Pray, read the Bible, seek the silence, consider in your lives what God wants from you. What awaits when we do is a deep and powerful friendship with the Lord Jesus who changes lives and gives love powerful enough for all eternity.

Homily for Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Today’s Readings

Are you hungry? Today’s readings focus a lot on food. We have a rather interesting approach to food in United States. Far too often, I think people in the US see a meal as that thing to rush through very quickly to get to the important part of life. After all, we are the people who invented fast food. But today’s readings provide an interesting contrast between the God who longs to Fill us more completely than we can possibly imagine, and people who have been filled spiritually, but have neglected the body.

To be sure, Isaiah writing in the first reading, describes a scene where everything is plentiful. There’s no concern about calories, or eating right or wrong foods. Rather God is so generous that whatever the body needs to be drawn into eternal salvation is given it. This is not just the giving of food that satisfies until the next meal, but rather concerns the giving of what is needed for eternal life. It is in that context that we hear the tremendous joy at the end of the reading. God has saved us!

In the Gospel, Desperate people with all sorts of calamities and illnesses come to Jesus for deep healing. Their suffering is so intense, but there first concern does not seem to be making sure they get enough to eat. Rather, it is to come to the person of Jesus to Leah’s feet, and to receive the tremendous healing he longs to give each one of us.

In fact, the question of food that Jesus poses to the disciples, is not primarily about what to eat. It is rather, to show us, through the disciples, God is one who can meet all our needs. It is not to suggest that we should ignore the physical concerns of our body. It is good for us here on earth to watch will be eat, to exercise, and to do those things that are necessary to help us to be healthy.

But it is to recognize that you and I are destined for greater things. For the correct living of our lives, open to the gift of life, by living so our hearts are ready to receive the tremendous gifts of God’s spirit, we are called to receive the gift of life that lasts forever.