CACINA

Homily August 16, 2015 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted in Called, Christianity, Eucharist, Faith, inspirational, religion, Spirit, Word by Fr Joe R on August 13, 2015

20 sunThe last few weeks we have been listening to the Bread of life discourse in the Gospel of John. As we know, John was written after the other gospels and has some different characteristics than the 3 Synoptic gospels. John, for instance, spends several chapters on the last supper and Jesus’ washing of feet and various discourses, but he does not include the institution of the Eucharist. The discourse we have been listening to is placed at Passover, and thee bread of life discourse is John’s introduction and theology of Christ’s body and blood. It is his way of teaching and bringing about a better understanding of the Eucharist.20 sunda So far we have seen the body and blood as food and nourishment for the body and as spiritual food for our journey to eternal life,

Today, Jesus emphasizes that the body and blood he is giving is actually his very flesh and his very blood. This flesh and blood is really and actually his body and blood. As bread is made of grain crushed and mixed with water and then baked at high temperature, so has the wine been made of crushed grapes and fermented to make his blood Bread as we know is a staple and nutritious for every day life and in such a way is Christ’s body crushed and life giving to us now and for our daily life and for future life to come. Wine is true drink, but actually in a way more festive and joyful for the sharing of nutritious and happy times. Together we come together and share his body and blood and together achieve a unity of mind and heart and prepare ourselves to go out and face the world as loving Christians and bring ourselves to a table and place Body_of_Christ_by_ssejllenradprepared for us when we have reached the end of our time. Real food, real drink for us for now physically and spiritually , a way to face daily life. How can this be, how can it be his flesh and blood? It was asked in Christ’s time and obviously in John’s time. And even today it is asked. Faith tells us it is what Christ said it was and there has been throughout the centuries no greater gift to us. His body, his blood has been given and has been a constant from the very earliest church. It is true even to today, whoever eats his body and drinks his blood will have life and will never die.

Reflection for Thursday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time (Year 1)

Thursday of the Nineteenth Week of the Year (August 13, 2015) Inclusive Lectionary Texts

Readings- Joshua chapter 3 verses 7-11 & 13-17 / Psalm 114: verses 1-6 / Matthew chapter 18 verses 21 through chapter 19 verse 1

Friends, what I think we have in the readings today is about unconditional forgiveness. The official who was forgiven his debt did not forgive and extend mercy in the way it was given to him. He became greedy and made it about money and not loving forgiveness. He does not forgive in an unconditional way. Sometimes like all of us we forgive but don’t forget and a hidden grudge remains and as soon as the person does something it triggers the old memory and we become angry and bring up the old hurt. Believe me it is not an easy task to forgive and forget but it is something we can all use some help with. So I challenge us today to be open to a merciful, compassionate unconditional forgiving heart.

rev. Michael Theogene

Reflection for Wednesday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time (Year 1)

Wednesday of the Nineteenth Week of the Year (August 12, 2015)
Readings- Deuteronomy – Chapter 34 verses 1-12 / Psalm 66 verses 1-3, 5-8, and 16-17
Matthew – Chapter 18 verses 15-20

Friends, it usually is in community life when you are with persons, close friends in community, when we sometimes experience a shift of some sort. The shift can perhaps be when we see ourselves in relationships constantly being challenged over and over again by the same thing. Whether we saw ourselves as being instructive in a friendly sense and also an attentive listener, somehow certain individuals can be challenging at times.

It is so difficult to be able to speak to someone when they do not realize that they are hurting others through their actions. They may not realize that there behavior causes so much pain to others. This is not intentional on the person’s part, but I am sure we have all experienced this situation in our daily encounters. How does one confront such a person without a big explosion?

90% of the time, we let it go because of our own fear of the reaction of the other person. The Bible says when someone does not listen to you or you have difficulty explaining the situation, you should bring another with you to speak with that person. It goes on to say if that doesn’t work go to a higher authority etc. Somehow all this seems to create more problems. We are human and make mistakes about how we communicate with one another. The real problem is that we take criticism too personal and get defensive and this causes a block inside us that refuses to see our own responsibility in the situation. No one is totally right or wrong, it is how we are in the habit of interacting with one another and are afraid to see our own defects and see only the defects of the other. It is so important to be able to speak with the other person with compassion and mercy and also to be open to what needs to be changed inside ourselves. This definitely is a very difficult order. However it is exactly what we must do to help in these difficult situations if we really want peace. So how do we accomplish this peaceful solution?
As it states in today’s gospel, “if you join in agreement to pray for anything……it will be granted you by my Abba God ….” . Perhaps we can begin our conversation with the person by asking to pray together for a solution to the situation. Let the conversation begin!

rev. Michael Theogene

Reflection for Tuesday of the 19th Week in Ordinary Time

Tuesday of the Nineteenth Week of the Year (Year 1 from the Inclusive Lectionary Texts)

Deuteronomy 31:1-8 Psalm Deuteronomy 32: 3-4, 7, 8, 9-12 Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14

Sisters and Brothers, what is it that we are most afraid of? What is it that we fear? Are we afraid that our loved ones won’t be protected? Are we afraid that what we wish for or want will not come to fruition? I think we spend too much time wasting away so much brain power worrying about things. Things in general and of course all other kinds of things. I think we worry so much, stressing ourselves out that we hurt our bodies both mentally and physically. The headaches, the migraines, the neck and back pain, do these sound familiar?

I am not saying that we shouldn’t plan and dream a little, but when we put so much time and effort into something that has not happened yet, we begin to try and control the situation. Who do we think we are, God? Let God do what God does best. Which is God taking care of God’s own people? We have to put our trust in God, totally and not partially. Moses had to trust fully when leading the people. We are God’s inheritance; we are God’s own no matter who we are or where we come from. It does not matter how we worship or if we do not worship at all. The One who is the source of all being, of all that is and exists will come to be and pass, but in God’s time. As Jesus has told us, God comes even for the one. As the great Catholic mystic Julian of Norwich says, ‘All will be well, all will be well, and all matter of being will be made well.”
Friends, if you have the opportunity today, I would suggest a song, if you will, to listen to for meditation. There are many songs of course, but this one comes to mind. The song “Live Fully This Moment” (1989 The Benedictine Foundation of the State of Vermont, Inc.) from the Monks of Weston Priory, the refrain follows. ‘Live fully this moment; do not dwell in the past. Don’t be concerned about tomorrow. Be present to each other, with hearts full of love, be alive in the reality of now.’

Jesus says, tomorrow has enough of its own drama. We are the children; we are the daughters and sons of God, so let’s remind ourselves of it and live it. I know it isn’t easy at times, as I have to remind myself of it also when I stray.

rev. Michael Theogene

Reflection for Mon. 8/10/15 Cycle B Year 1

Sisters and Brothers, each morning we wake up, it’s an opportunity given to us again and again by the Creator to live fully upon the moment given to us. The opportunity each day to awaken and listen to what God is telling us. We take a silent bow; a listen if you will to the whispering in our ear on how much God is so much in love with us. God wants to give us so much more that we can possibly imagine for ourselves. We need to take on the daily challenge of sitting still to remember to take in the awesomeness and power that God instills in us. In the example of Jesus, the one who serves not only God, but us in our daily struggles, trials and tribulations Jesus example of living each moment not dwelling in the past, learning from life’s lessons shows us the true nature of love. The love that serves at our feet, the example of the promise that dwells among us, Jesus did not take people for granted but found the perfection in all those he encountered. We have to die to ourselves everyday in order to grow. Even if we have to keep re-learning from our mistakes and shortcomings, what it comes down to is, have we really learned from the experience. It is not only the teaching of Jesus but following the corporal works of mercy or what other paths of spirituality we may follow in our journey of faith. Mother Theresa says it best, “At any moment, to be able to sacrifice who we are, for what we can become.”

rev. Michael Theogene
Pastor, Saint Benedict Mission in Brooklyn, NY (New York City)

False Idols and Real Bread 19th Sunday, 8-9-15

Posted in christian, Christianity, ecclesiology, Eucharist, Faith, homily, inspirational, religion, scripture, Spirit, Word by Rev. Martha on August 7, 2015

HT 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 8-9-15, 1Kings 19: 4-8, Ps 34, Ephesians 4: 30-5: 2, John 6: 41-51

It hardly seems fair to read the short passage about Elijah without a quick re-cap of why the prophet was in such sad condition. As kids, we acted out this story; it was a favorite. The name of Queen Jezebel stands for deceit and danger. She worshiped the idol Baal and killed God’s prophets. To save God’s people, who were worshiping Baal and forgetting God, Elijah finally confronted Jezebel’s husband, King Ahab, in a dramatic showdown between Elijah and 450 of Baal’s prophets. (We used dollhouse figures and dominos for the prophets.)  

The showdown was to decisively prove that the Lord God is real, active and alive, while Baal was only an idol made by human hands. The sacrifice offered to Baal remained untouched, but fire rained down and consumed the sacrifice to God, along with the altar, the stones, the water poured over the sacrifice, and even the dust around the altar. Elijah then killed Baal’s prophets. When Jezebel heard this, she swore that in 1 day, Elijah would be dead. 

So we find Elijah exhausted, desperately afraid for his life, worn out from the struggle of standing alone and being faithful to God in a hostile environment. He has a kind of breakdown from the stress. An angel is sent to nurture him; Elijah is fed and allowed to rest. He was to journey to the Mountain at Horeb aka Mt. Sinai, where God had met Moses with thunder, earthquakes and fire, where God gave the 10 commandants and the covenant. The angel saw to it that Elijah was strengthened for the trip. Remember: God was not in wind, earthquake, or fire for Elijah, but in a still, small voice, exactly right for a weary prophet. God told Elijah to anoint a new king, and he would have the support of 7,000 men. Elijah was no longer fearful or alone.  

The theme is the same as when the Israelites were hungry and discouraged after leaving Egypt- in both cases, bread was sent to nourish them on the journey, a tangible sign of God’s love, care, and presence in their lives. God’s love is indeed real, active and alive, in our lives now as it was then.  

That sets the stage for salvation history to be fulfilled in the ultimate way, in Jesus. In our Gospel, Jesus is being berated by some of the crowd. John uses the label “the Jews” for those who claim to know God, yet refuse to accept Jesus for who he is. Their claims are as worthless as Baal. They remind us of the Israelites’ complaints against God.   These men ridiculed Jesus and called him a fake. “How could Jesus”, they ask, “Come down from heaven, when he is the son of Mary and Joseph?” “This is untrue,” they say, “He’s making this all up, trying to make himself better than he is, causing trouble; he is an embarrassment.”  

No wonder St. Paul warns us in the 2nd reading to not grieve the Holy Spirit with bitterness, anger, shouting, and reviling. When we whine, find fault, and deny the power of God, we blind others and ourselves to miracles happening around us. We prevent others and ourselves from receiving the nourishing bread and love that God has for us.  

Jesus tells the people that no one can come to Him unless the Father draws them. No way does this mean that God picks and chooses only some to come to faith! Jesus explains, “Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me, and whoever believes has eternal life.” In fact, in last week’s reading Jesus told the people, “I will not reject anyone who comes to me…this is the will of God, that I should not lose any he gave me, but that I should raise (them) on the last day.” That seems pretty clear.  

Again, Jesus emphasizes his purpose in coming. “I am the bread of life.” Jesus is not the bread distributor, not the driver of the bread truck. Jesus, in the flesh, fully human/fully divine, has come to give himself. The lesson is not about the stomach, but about believing in God and being given eternal life. 

For us, I think that we get so tied up in concern over self-worth, following rules, and our individual efforts, that we get confused. It’s hard to think that God wouldn’t have a better screening system for eternal life other than “belief”. Surely there will be background checks, resumes, references, interviews, won’t there? Did we work really hard, have good manners, do volunteer work, go to church even when we were on vacation? Hmmm….

I’m not at all suggesting that living in a positive way in our society is worthless, of course not. But if Jesus is the Bread of Life, the Living Bread, and his purpose of coming to earth was for us, then, it changes the whole way we approach what really matters, even how we think about Jesus and that mystery we call “indwelling of the Spirit”. Think of Jesus as the air we must have to breath. Leave the air; we die. Think of Jesus as the one absolute, the primary relationship from which all other relationships flow. Think if JesusBread is our food, and we become what we eat, then we become JesusPeople.  

Instead of just me struggling to think of other ways to express this, I’m going to ask you to do something slightly outrageous. Please, send me an email this week,  with 3 different ways you express this idea of Jesus as the living bread in your life. I’ll forward some of your ideas to Bill for next week’s bulletin so we can share new ways to express what living bread means to us. Thanks!

August 2, 2015 Today’s Homily at Holy Trinity Parish

Posted in Called, Christianity, church events, Eucharist, Faith, homily, inspirational, scripture, Spirit, Word by Fr Joe R on August 2, 2015

Homily for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B 2015 (Aug 9)

Posted in christian, Christianity, Eucharist, inspirational, scripture by Fr. Ron Stephens on August 2, 2015

Homily for the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B 2015 (Aug 9)

We continue with Jesus’ teachings on the eucharist today and the idea we began last week with Jesus proclaiming himself to be the bread of heaven.

I want to start, however, with the first reading from the Book of Kings. Elijah was a prophet who was depressed.  I think if we read the selection carefully, we could put together all the elements of a good case for depression.

I checked out a doctor’s list for signs of depression and here’s what I found. A person may be depressed if they can’t sleep or want to sleep too much. Elijah sat down in the middle of the day and fell asleep under a broom tree. A depressed person finds tasks that were all right before to be difficult.  Elijah was finding it difficult to prophesy, especially when no one heeded his prophecies. The depressed person feels hopeless and helpless. Elijah asks that he might die! The depressed person can’t control negative thoughts. Elijah says “I am no better than my ancestors – take away my life.” The depressed person has no appetite. Elijah hadn’t been eating and didn’t want to eat until the angel forced him to. Even after he hate he went to lie down again. The final thing that is noted in depression is that the person feels life is not worth living. And that seems to be the whole attitude of Elijah in this reading.

Many people, maybe even some of us, suffer from depression. Elijah had no diagnosis, no doctors to prescribe for him,but God sends an angel to him to feed him and to push him on. The passage ends with Elijah “went in the strength of that food, forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mountain of God.

We seem to have made medical strides with depression today, but one thing a patient is not told is to put some hope in God who told us he would never send anything to us that we couldn’t handle with his grace. It was, in this case, food that God sent, that strengthened him and pulled back on his depressive state.

We, too, need the food that God sends. Our Psalm says “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” “I sought the Lord and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.” A little bit of God goes a long way, and a little of the food from heaven can cure us.

That, too, seems to be the message of Jesus in the Gospel today, among a number of theological messages John presents to us.

Our Gospel passage picks up from last week when Jesus proclaimed himself the bread from heaven and some of the literal minded crowd wondered how he could say he was from heaven when they knew he was just a carpenter’s son, the son of Joseph.

In answer, Jesus begins a discourse on how God has sent this bread to them in the form of a human, and has given grace to people to allow them to see Jesus for that bread. Jesus explains that if they have learned from the Old testament and have been taught by God, they will come to him, for they will see him as the fulfillment of that promise of old.

Then the shocking promise comes. If you eat of the bread from heaven, bread which means both the teaching and words of Jesus, and later the eucharistic bread that is his body, you will not die.

On one level the people must have thought he was crazy – how could they eat the bread from heaven and how was someone not supposed to die – ever! It made no sense.  But Jesus doesn’t let it go. He says “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever, and the bread that I will give for the life of the world [to accomplish this feat] will be my own flesh.

As I said last week, it makes sense to us because most of us have been brought up with this concept, this idea from our youth, but imagine hearing it the first time. Is it not surprising that many people found him a bit crazy, if this was how he was talking. I asked you last week to reflect on the importance of the eucharist, and this week I would like to to reflect on the healing power of the eucharist. Just as God was able to help Elijah’s depression, the food that came down from heaven which is Jesus, can also help us to be healed, sometimes physically, but most often spiritually. These few weeks in John, we can find Jesus at his most outrageous self in his teachings, something we have never known or have forgotten. But the content of what he says needs to rattle our own brains so that we can come to depend on the eucharist, to know that it is truly a healing gift – not just for forgiveness of sins, its major accomplishment, but for other healings as well.

Do we think about what we are doing when we go to communion? Do we see it as a healing power? Do we see it as partaking in Jesus’ death to give life to us? Do we discover the peace that comes with communion? Does it influence our lives during the week? Do we miss it dreadfully when we can’t partake of it? I hope that you will spend a few moments this next week, asking yourself these questions, and if it has become something rote and ritualistic for you with little meaning, try to discover the true meaning and how it can affect your life for the better. Does it lead to what Paul tells us today – “to be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.”

And this is the eucharistic Good News I proclaim today!

Bishop Ron Stephens

Pastor of St. Andrew’s Parish in Warrenton, VA

The Catholic Apostolic Church in North America (CACINA)

[You can purchase a complete Cycle A and Cycle B of Bishop Ron’s homilies, one for every Sunday and Feast, from amazon.com for $9.99 – “Teaching the Church Year”]

White, Rye, or Pumpernickel ?

Posted in christian, Christianity, Eucharist, homily, inspirational, religion, Resurrection, saints, scripture, Spirit, Word by Rev. Martha on July 30, 2015

18th Sunday Ordinary Time 8-2-15, Exodus 16: 2-15, Ps 78¸ Ephesians 4: 17-24, John 6: 24-35

Let’s start today by diving right into our second reading.  Behind Paul’s scholarly-sounding language is a deep understanding of real life.  Paul walked thousands of miles, and probably taught the Gospel to more people than anyone else in the ancient world.  He preached in streets, in homes, in cities, in synagogues – anywhere that you could image.  From this came real knowledge of what needs to happen to make faith functional in our lives. 

Paul says we can “no longer live… in the futility of our minds.” He’s saying that we like to cling to what we’ve decided to think, and work very hard to make everything around us match up with what we have decided to be truth. We say, “Don’t confuse me with the facts”. There’s a lot of that in today’s Gospel as the people say to Jesus, “What miracle can you do, that we may see and believe in you?”  They wanted “Jesus’ Drive-thru Quick Bread & Fish”, with no cashier.  “Get a side order of salvation.” They wanted “Easy Street” to be reality. 

But St. Paul says, “That’s not how you learned Christ…you were taught that you should put away the old self, corrupted through deceitful desires.”   We decide we Need more stuff, God doesn’t do enough for us. Paul knows that we lie to ourselves and need to change!  What is the remedy?  “Be renewed in the spirit of your minds and put on the new self,” Paul writes. 

Paul writes from experience.  He was working to wipe out Christianity when Jesus came to him; he was directly responsible for the stoning deaths of Christians.  He was “breathing murderous threats” when Jesus appeared to him.  He was convinced he was right – and righteous. But, if you recall Paul’s encounter with the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, you know that meeting with real “righteousness, holiness, and truth ” stunned Paul into changing his life, putting on a “new self”, and as a result he truly changed the world.  Remember, Jesus loves us, despite anything we’ve done.

With that background, we come to the Gospel.  Jesus has to tell the crowd, “You were looking for me not because you saw miracles, but because you ate the loaves and were filled.  Don’t work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which I WILL GIVE you.” 

“Ok”, the people say, “What do we have to do?”  But they had only listened up to the part about the food; that was their “reality”.  What Paul called “the futility of their minds” had trapped them.  Jesus was talking about eternity; they were thinking about lunch. 

It’s easy to understand why the people reacted like they did.  Theirs was a culture of constant near starvation.  A full day’s work paid for nothing but a day’s food.   Hunger was very real to them, and I get why their minds were on manna – free food that appeared each day, bread from heaven.  “Sir”, they say, “Give us this bread always.”  I can imagine their confusion when Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

So here is the centerpiece of the entire passage. “I am the bread of life.” Jesus knows full well about hunger and thirst. God created us to be more than animals who stand in the field, eating grass. Life is more than white, rye or pumpernickel. Life is love, community, family, worship, eternity. Drive-thrus sell food, not give life. Jesus sustains the soul in a way that far exceeds bread filling the stomach. “I am the way, the truth and the life” is not a statement about which religion is the best, but an open door to life beyond our imagining. Jesus is the bread of love, community, family, the very substance of the spirit of God, the essence of life.

 The early church understood.  James 2:15-17 “ If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.”  On page 12, at the bottom, in the Saturday Baltimore Sun, is this one-paragraph article: “The World Food Program announced new cuts…in food aid for Syrian refugees in Jordan…” There are 629,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan, and their monthly food allotment is as low as $7.00.  More than half of these are children. There is no money after August for over 3 million children.   The early church may have understood Jesus, but today’s world – not so much.

Jesus tells the people, “This is the work of God:  that you believe in the one he sent.”  He is teaching priority #1.  First, we believe and love God.  If we do that, then loving each other is a given.  It is a part of loving God.  It is belief itself; the two cannot be separated.  Loving God is believing that God is the source of life.  God brings life to not only our body, but also our soul. This is not different from loving each other and caring for each other, body and soul, stomach and spirit.  Our love of God is based on a risen Christ, and Christ’s love for us was God’s love.  This is all one idea, one belief, one faith.  If the love is real, then the bread comes with it.  

Lord, renew the spirit of our minds, and help us to live in your truth.

 

Homily for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B 2015 (Aug 2)

Posted in christian, Christianity, Eucharist, homily, inspirational by Fr. Ron Stephens on July 25, 2015

Homily for the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B 2015 (Aug 2)

As I mentioned last week, we are taking a mini-sojourn into the Gospel of John and specifically those sections of Jesus’ teaching on the Eucharist. Before we begin that today, though, the Church provides us with the Hebrew background that we need to know in order to put Jesus’ words into the context of Jewish life two thousand years ago.

We begin today with the reading from the Book of Exodus which, as you know, contains the movement of the Jewish people out of their slavery in Egypt and their forty year trip to their new Promised Land.

In our reading today, we hear the Hebrews complaining about their stay in the desert, or what they call the wilderness, and it could not have been very pleasant. There were a lot of people, and because they were traveling, there was no way to grow food. Yet everyone had to be fed. They found there was, of course, not enough food that they could scrounge to feed everyone, so they were starving. It was not an unfounded complaint they were making.

Presumably Moses brings their complaints to God because God sees their hunger and finds a way to feed them. They had apparently brought a few animals with them that they could kill and eat, but they would soon run out and they had nothing else. So the Lord says: “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you.”

God then sent quails each night that they could catch and kill, and in the mornings on the ground was a substance much like bread that they could gather and eat. The Israelites named it manna, bread from heaven.

The Psalm today remembers God’s kindness to the Israelites in the desert, and although they never ate or tasted the manna, they remember through the stories that their grandparents and great grandparents passed down to them about it. They thanked God for his goodness for this bread of heaven and this bread of angels.

So the background we need to know is that God took care of his people as God always does, and specifically in this case by nourishing their physical bodies that were starving by giving them the bread from heaven.

Last week in the Gospel, we saw how Christ was able to also feed the hungry with physical bread in the miracle of the loaves and fishes. The crowd had been amazed that they had all been fed, and even though Jesus tried to escape them, they followed Jesus. Jesus says that they had followed him only because he took care of their physical needs, their hunger, not for the reasons that they should have followed him. Jesus is more concerned with their spiritual lives, and feeding their spiritual lives with food that will last forever. He says that they need to work for that kind of bread that will last forever, and the work that they have to do is to believe.

We have seen that idea of the importance of belief in Jesus many times over the last few months, and here John picks up that theme as well as Mark had.

Now our background from Exodus will help us. The crowd tells Jesus that Moses gave their ancestors bread from heaven. They ask, what are you going to do to help us believe? Rather odd, since Jesus had just done a rather major miraculous thing for them by feeding five thousand!

Jesus reminds them that it wasn’t Moses that fed them bread from heaven, but God. God sent them bread from heaven and gave physical life to the world. And now God is sending bread to give spiritual life to the world. And this is where it must have really shocked the people listening to Jesus. They asked where is this bread that God is sending? And Jesus tells them…”I am!”

As Catholics, we were all brought up on this outrageous idea and it doesn’t really seem so foreign to us, but try to imagine what it must have sounded like to the crowd following Jesus. Jesus is bread? Jesus was sent to God for them to eat? If they come to Jesus they will never be hungry spiritually? How crazy must that have seemed to them on the first hearing.

We are lucky, because we know what followed, and we know how Christ’s body becomes present in the eucharist – the bread we consume here each week. But the enormity of this idea, the craziness of this idea, the bizarreness of this idea should have shocked his listeners. And maybe we need to be shocked every once in a while, too.

We have this amazing gift each week – bread that gives life, that allows us never to be hungry or thirsty spiritually and food that will bring us eternal life! Yet, so many people ignore all that and try to be spiritual in their homes and away from the eucharist. If we really understood and believed the immensity of this gift, nothing would be able to stop us from having this pure gift each week. Unfortunately, through unbelief, through repetition, through busy lives, it doesn’t seem all that important or amazing to us any more.

We talk about Good News each week. Well, this news of Jesus today really is good. Let us spend the week reflecting on what a gift it is to us, how by taking the eucharist we can never be spiritually hungry or thirsty, and how we can better prepare ourselves and take advantage of the remarkable powers of this sacrament. Truly good news for a truly good people!

Bishop Ron Stephens

Pastor of St. Andrew’s Parish in Warrenton, VA

The Catholic Apostolic Church in North America (CACINA)

[You can purchase a complete Cycle A and Cycle B of Bishop Ron’s homilies, one for every Sunday and Feast, from amazon.com for $9.99 – “Teaching the Church Year”]

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