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Caution: Putting a Sunday homily on the Website is tricky business. All the viewer has is a written text. A homily, on the other hand, is "an oral event". It may not have been said or heard the way it was written. In addition, a roughly ten-minute homily is part of a roughly one-hour worship event in which God and God's people communicate with each other by means of ritual, symbol, song, proclamation, prayer. Not everything in these homilies is original. As a homilist, I rely on and at times borrow from other homilists and writers who are not properly mentioned in this format. I am often indebted to them.

Father William Marrevee, s.c.j.

Body and Blood of Christ A

If you are at all literal minded, you may well cringe when you hear some lines in today’s Gospel:
“eating the flesh of the Son of Man and drinking his blood”
“eating my flesh and drinking my blood”
“my flesh is true food, my blood is true drink”
All sorts of objections have been raised against this sort of language, especially when it is only understood in a literal, physical, biological sense.

I would suggest trying to get over the limitations of that literal, physical, biological way of thinking…. because these lines in today’s Gospel passage contain a very important faith truth for us.

What is the issue? The acceptance of Jesus as God’s gift of grace, of peace, of love, of a sense of purpose in life, of God’s caring for us, of God’s sustaining us on life’s journey, of the path to authentic human living so well expressed in the document that our bishop presented to us last year entitled Discovering Jesus Christ: the path of freedom.

That gift from God to us is Jesus-shaped, it has taken on the form of Jesus, more specifically the form of Jesus laying down his life for us, giving himself totally to God for our sake.

Our accepting Jesus in faith, our embracing Jesus in faith is spoken of in the language of eating and drinking. It is hard to think of an image that could be more expressive of acceptance, of total receptivity. To eat, to drink is to receive. So the primary meaning of eating and drinking the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ is that of embracing the fullness of God’s down-to-earth, Jesus-shaped love for us. What we are about, when we come together for Mass and especially when at communion time we come forward to receive the Spirit-filled bread and wine, the Body and Blood of Christ, is really receiving, embracing, digesting Jesus’ gift of himself….so that we may live. We are being filled and permeated with this Jesus so that we “may abide in Jesus and Jesus may abide in us.” Jesus in his giving of self is our food and drink.

When that receiving, that embracing, that digesting of Jesus’ gift of self is authentic, then it will also impact on us, it will not leave us unchanged. A line from St. Augustine (5 th century): “When we eat and drink ordinarily, the food and drink becomes part of us through the digestive process. But when we eat and drink the God-given food and drink that Jesus is, then we become what we eat and drink.” In the words of St. Paul in the 2nd reading: “We become the Body of Christ.” The transformation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ aims at transforming us who consume this bread and wine. That will inevitably impact on the way we interact with each other, on the way we stand in the world….

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