Tag Archives: Eucharist

Jesus offers the twelve their freedom to walk away from him and his teaching about the Eucharist – again, no change there then!

The peoples response to Jesus teaching is: “This is intolerable language.” But what provoked such a strong reaction?

Whatever way Jesus delivered this teaching – which is obviously about the Eucharist – he left the people in no doubt that he wasn’t speaking symbolically, and he wasn’t speaking about signs.

When he’d finished his teaching they clearly understood he meant actually eating his flesh and drinking his blood and they found it “intolerable language” and concluded, “How could anyone accept it?”

Remember the reaction wasn’t just words, they didn’t just talk the talk, they walked away. They were clearly shocked, possibly even disgusted!

And Jesus didn’t even try to stop 🛑 them!

He didn’t try to stop ✋ them because the teaching he’d shared was the truth. He was saying “this is how it is in Heaven and I can’t change it.”

This is my Fathers will, that you eat my flesh and drink my blood; that you celebrate Eucharist. But we must celebrate it in such a way that we’re actually eating and drinking him – and the bread and wine are not signs or symbols but his actual body and blood, his very self.

Jesus makes no effort to soften his teaching: “Does this upset you?” he says, and pushes on trying to open up the huge expanse that exists behind his earthly body, the spirit that’s behind the flesh. “It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh has nothing to offer” he says. Yet we spend so much time focused on the flesh – and money too.

Then Jesus states that we cannot come to him unless the Father allows it. Once again we’re told that there’s order to all this, that not all are admitted to the kingdom of God – qualifications are required – that there are some who will always be outside it because they remain “lost” in their own flesh which Jesus says “has nothing to offer” – it ends in dust! This is Peter’s point at the end: “Lord, who shall we go to? You have the message of eternal life.” Without you, we’re just dust!

In the end, having lost large numbers, Jesus turns to the twelve; “What about you, do you want to go away too?”

Jesus offers the twelve something beautiful, their freedom, their freedom to walk away from him and his teaching about the Eucharist. Is it a reflection of how Jesus offers people today the same freedom to walk away from Mass? Are the people who walk away from Mass today using their freedom in much the same way as the people who walked away from this teaching about the Eucharist?

Have we changed at all?

Encountering Christ – learning from the leper.

‘Spirit’ Confirmation Programme 3.

The single most important question you guys need to ask and answer (your parents too) is; if Confirmation wasn’t part of school life would you be approaching your local Church to look for it?

Candidates for Confirmation participate in the first 'Spirit' Workshop.

Candidates for Confirmation participate in the first ‘Spirit’ Workshop.

Still, whether you know it or not, God is calling you guys through the very fact that Confirmation is a part of school life. He’s calling you through the ‘Spirit’ programme, through the adults who’ve given so freely of themselves, through all of us gathered here, through your teachers, and even through me!

But the greatest call is the call that comes from the direct encounter with Jesus Christ in his Word and in his body and blood offered to us in the Eucharist – although what I’m calling the ‘direct’ encounter is still being mediated through the Church!

I think the leper in today’s Gospel (Mark 1:40-45) can teach us much about Confirmation, about your Confirmation, about the Christian life in general.

The leper goes to find Jesus.

Without the effort of going out to meet Jesus – and we’re not told how much of an effort the leper had to make but it’s likely to have been significant – nothing would have changed for the leper. There’d have been no encounter with Christ and there’d have been no healing. Same old, same old, same old life!

Confirmation presumes you’re making the effort to go out and meet Jesus. If there’s no effort on your part then Confirmation – and remember what Confirmation is; the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Divine-self – will be like throwing seeds on patches of rock where there’s little soil.

Incidentally Pope John Paul II used to love to ask people: What did you do with your Confirmation? Well, what do you think?

The leper can teach us other things too about life with God – or life without God!

Generally, like the leper people won’t go looking for God until they have a need. Confirmation presumes you have a need for God. Do you have a need for God?

When the leper encounters Christ – when Jesus stretches out his hand and says: “Of course I want to! Be Cured!” – the lepers life is changed. Yes, his life is made better, enhanced, which is what the presence of Christ always does in a life, but that life is also changed, radically.

The radically changed life is something we often miss and I’m not sure whether we miss it through simple ignorance or if it’s a very deliberate attempt to make the teaching of Jesus suit us. When Jesus stretches out his hand, whether to the serious sinner or the seriously ill, a real change is effected in their lives, sinners, outsiders, the marginalized start putting right what’s wrong – often what wasn’t considered wrong before the encounter with Christ – and simultaneously they enter a deeper experience of the kingdom of God. Indeed, the change is the proof that the kingdom of God is present.

As Christ is encountered, things that didn’t seem wrong are suddenly seen to be wrong. As Christ is encountered, the catechism is encountered. The more the kingdom of God takes hold of us the more we’ll understand even the difficult teachings of the Church, things that just seemed like nonsense before our growth in Christ!

Finally, do you know where to go to encounter Christ?

Well, in truth, it can happen almost anywhere, but there’s one very privileged place. Where is it? It’s the reason your teachers constantly remind you that there’s to be no talking in the Church. God has given one particular place that is the unequaled place of encounter: Mass, and as a result of Mass; the Tabernacle and Adoration.

You guys probably pass a Church many times every week. How often do you call in to speak with Jesus present in the Tabernacle?

You guys change that – start calling in for 10 minutes every day and just talk to him – and he’ll change your whole life, from the inside out, and it’ll be a much better life than the one you’ll make without him!

God is calling you – by name!

But can you hear it? Can you see it? Or will your Confirmation remain unused, an unused key to an unknown kingdom?

Your choice. You choose.

Fourteenth Sunday Year A: Resting in God; the joy of Catholicism.

These things – the mysteries of God – are hidden from the learned and the clever and revealed to mere children.

This is how God operates… He chooses the lowly.

God never chooses the high and mighty – and with good reason.

The high and mighty are filled with… what, what are they filled with? Usually themselves and their own achievements! Thus there’s no time and no room for God. It is that simple.

So Jesus is not arguing against learning but against what it often does to the human heart. It can fill us with self… and the illusion of self-sufficiency.

The bottom line here is that only a heart with room for God can receive God. Another way to say that is to say that we must have a need for God…

Thus Jesus says come to me, all you who labour and are over-burdened – in other words all who have a need – and I will give you rest. There’s probably no better summary of the life and purpose of Jesus Christ: Come to me… and I will give you rest.

The first movement belongs to us; come to me. We must move towards God before God moves towards us – and Gods movement toward us is experienced as ‘rest’ for the human person. (In hindsight the soul will realize that the movement toward God was itself the work of grace but that doesn’t negate the human effort involved)

This “rest” which is actually a little bit of the Divine life entering into our lives here and now is our real security – “a man’s life is not made secure by what he owns…”

Now, this “rest” brings with it an awareness of a responsibility, a “yoke” and a “burden” that Jesus describes as “easy” and “light” (easy and light compared to the alternative which is to make a God (an idol) out of something or someone other than God)

In other words, we don’t get God without also getting a moral order!

Finally, a word about how we might actually “come” to Jesus.

The Eucharist is the God-designed point of contact where God waits for us to come to him… more particularly He has chosen to remain with us in the bread and wine consecrated in the Eucharist.

God has willed (in the same way that He willed Christmas) that the presence of Jesus Christ on earth be perpetuated (continued) in the bread and wine of the Eucharist so that effectively Christ never really left us!Pope Francis carries monstrance during observance of Corpus Christi feast

Thus we “come” to Him by being present to Him in the bread and wine of the Eucharist. That’s the reason the consecrated bread which we call the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in the Tabernacle – that we might “come” to Him.

The experience of “rest” which he promises is experienced only to the degree that we are truly present to Him.

This is the reason we must practice religion.

This is the reason the Church insists that Sunday Mass is the absolute minimum.

This is the reason the Church encourages adoration of the Eucharistic species – that you and I might “come” to Him and know His “rest”

Corpus Christi and Fatima; the centrality of Mass in God’s design.

Corpus Christi: the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. The whole mystery of God – from Christmas to Easter and beyond – packaged and given to us to be opened… plundered.

This is how God becomes ‘concrete’ in time, how he becomes personal, how he enters our lives…

This then is the big one!

But unfortunately for us (and it will be unfortunate!) in our day we’ve lost the importance of Mass. So, during the week I gave some thought to how I might register the cosmic significance of the Mass – even that’s understating it! Eventually I settled on using the events in Fatima to stress the centrality of the Mass in God’s design.

There’s a little known detail about Fatima that is so instructive in this regard. Shortly before the appearances of Our Lady in Fatima in 1917 an angel appeared to the three children. But the angel didn’t come empty handed.

The angel carried a host and a chalice in his hands… blood spilled from the host into theAngel of Fatima Image chalice. The children instantly recognized the host and the chalice as the central elements of the Mass.

Let’s stop at this point to reflect.

Why didn’t the angel bring a can of coke and a packet of crisps? Why not a glass of beer and a steak burger from the BBQ?

Then the angel did something even more instructive. Leaving the host and the chalice suspended in mid-air, the angel prostrated himself (bowed down before) the suspended host and chalice, taught the children to do the same, on their knees with their foreheads touching the ground and taught them a prayer.

Let’s stop again.

Why didn’t the angel say they should surf the waves on a Sunday morning and find God there? Or climb a mountain? Or go for a walk or a 10 kilometre run?

Why? Because God has chosen the way in which he gives himself – in bread and wine, the Mass!

Let’s look at the prayer, it’s equally instructive.

Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore you profoundly. I offer you the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for all the outrages, sacrileges and indifference by which you are offended. Through the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary I beg the conversion of poor sinners.

“Holy Trinity” (last Sunday); “Body and Blood… present in all the tabernacles” (today, Corpus Christi); “Sacred Heart” (next Friday) – there’s reason to these things, order!

Of all the prayers the angel could have taught, why this prayer?

The immediate purpose of Fatima was to prevent World War II – Our Lady told the children in 1917 that if people didn’t stop offending God a more terrible war would break out…

There’s a basic spiritual principle to be extracted here – the rejection of God (in other words the acceptance of sin) always ends in the figure of a crucified humanity. The rule of sin always leads to ruin.

I’ll finish with a question; according to the events that occurred in Fatima how important is the Mass?

Third Sunday of Easter: Christ bestows life on those who love him.

Everything needed to encounter Jesus Christ can be found in today’s Gospel.

Pope Francis, Sunday Homily, May 04 2014

Pope Francis, Sunday Homily, May 04 2014

Three things are needed; the desire for God, the Word of God and the bread of the Eucharist. Pursue the three things relentlessly and I guarantee you, if you’re not a Catholic already, you’ll become a Catholic – you’re inner world will start to resemble the Catechism!

Suddenly Jesus comes up and walks with two of his disciples. 

Significantly, they’re discussing him, his life and the events surrounding his death and reported resurrection. They’re downcast and haven’t yet come to faith describing Jesus as “a great prophet” rather than Lord. 

They’re interested in Jesus. He’s important to them. They’re looking to him and thus he comes to meet them. It’s a two way thing. This is the first requirement – interest, desire, or as Jesus put it, knocking, searching and looking because the privileges of the true Christian will never be disclosed to humankind at large.

Let’s imagine ourselves going for a walk down the promenade (a path on the banks of the River Slaney in Enniscorthy), or shopping, or our life from this moment to the next occasion we’ll gather here; how often is Jesus Christ likely to be the focus of our attention? This is the reason we don’t feel connected to God. Our hearts and minds are somewhere else. Do you know why this happens?

We accept much too uncritically the secular narrative that we need a particular lifestyle if we are to be happy – watch the soaps any evening and you’ll find that there’s a narrative running through them about what brings us happiness. It’s everywhere, it’s rarely challenged and it’s big business! We’re slow to understand that Jesus Christ bestows life on those who love him; a full measure, pressed down, shaken together and flowing over. Grace by its nature is excessive and overflows – it’s missionary!IMG_1202

Now look where he takes them when he begins to walk beside them. He leads them to reflect on the Word of God, the scriptures. This is the second requirement. Read the Gospels reflectively, repeatedly. There our minds will meet the mind of God, our hearts will meet the heart of God and our hearts too will begin to burn within us.

“… he made as if to go on; but they pressed him to stay with them.” They have the desire, they want him! If they’d let him go on, revelation wouldn’t have happened, they wouldn’t have been at the table with him when he took bread and they wouldn’t have recognized him. Imagine how close they’d have been but they still wouldn’t have made it. I’d say we’ve often been that close too!

This is the third and final requirement; the breaking of the bread. Their faith development reaches its climax in recognizing Jesus in the breaking of bread and suddenly he’s gone. Odd that, why disappear just then? Because he’s left them all that they need to find him. He’s left them directions – the Word and the breaking of bread, Holy Mass.

In every Mass two of the three requirements are always present; the Word and the breaking of the bread. But is the third always present; a real desire for Jesus Christ?