August 19, 2018 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time Deacon Steve Whiteman

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 PRV 9:1-6

 Responsorial Psalm PS 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7

  1. (9a) Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
    Reading 2 EPH 5:15-20

Alleluia JN 6:56

  1. Alleluia, alleluia.
    Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
    remains in me and I in him, says the Lord.

Gospel JN 6:51-58

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
When our kids were young, Christy and I tried different ways to spend time together with each of our children. This was not always easy but we did accomplish it when we took them on a “date”. This allowed each of us to spend some valuable 1:1 time with all 4 kids. The everyday distractions of life and siblings were set aside for a few hours in an effort for us to get to know each child a little better. The kids got to pick an activity and we shared a simple meal.

Kids grow up fast, so I regret not taking advantage of this opportunity more often. The times we did share were a special…we not only shared a meal together but it was a personal encounter and chance to develop a relationship. A chance to share hopes and dreams and make some memories.

These great experiences with the kids were based on the fact that sharing a meal with someone satisfies more than hunger. It provides an encounter that allows us to connect at a deeper level. When people share a meal together, a stronger bond is formed between family members, friends, coworkers or parishioners.  

Our Gospel this weekend reminds us of the precious bond we share as Catholics when we participate in the Eucharist meal together. The reading from the 6th chapter of John today is certainly familiar but that doesn’t make it any less perplexing. Even with 2000 years of perspective the true Presence of the Body and Blood of Jesus in Holy Communion is still a difficult concept to absorb. Fortunately God gives us examples in our everyday life to help us understand His mysteries.

In a book called: 201 Inspirational Stories of the Eucharist, Jeffery VonLehmen provides a great analogy. He points out that sharing body and blood is a fundamental part of everyone’s existence in a mother’s womb. The life of every baby depends on this nourishment from an umbilical cord. The mother’s body and blood provide everything the baby needs to develop from conception until birth.

If we take this comparison to a higher level, it’s easier to understand how the Body and Blood of Jesus nurtures our spiritual life. Just like the baby in a mother’s womb, our spiritual life is completely dependent on God. Our faith is a gift from God and we rely on Him completely for our daily growth and strength. The Holy Spirit is the umbilical cord that allows our faith to be nourished through the Eucharist.

If we take this idea a little further that makes us all siblings in the same spiritual womb. We are all being nourished together. The Sacred Heart of Jesus is pumping His body and blood through us with the Eucharist. As St. Paul told us, we are all 1 body in Christ. The Eucharist not only unites us to Christ but also to one another.

If we think about the Eucharist as sharing a Holy Meal together we may want to think about Mass a little differently. Receiving Jesus in Holy Communion can be the most intimate encounter for our personal faith life but there is more to consider. We cannot grow in reverence for the Eucharist without growing in love and respect each other. We are all sinners in God’s eyes and equally need his gift of faith and salvation.

If we consider Mass as sharing a meal together, we can do more than strengthen our faith and satisfy our spiritual hunger. If we take the time, we can have a personal encounter or develop a new relationship with someone we haven’t met. Consider staying after Mass for a few minutes to grow closer as a parish…don’t eat and run.

Our parish is a wonderful family with many faith filled and generous people. We do a good job of supporting each other but there is always the risk of someone slipping between the cracks. As we share our heavenly meal today, think of someone who may be missing. Find out if they need extra prayers or a ride to Mass. Consider introducing yourself to someone you haven’t met before and continue to build our community of faith.

So let us prepare ourselves now to share a family meal in the Eucharist together.

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