3rd Sunday of Easter
I had a first meeting last night with an engaged couple preparing for marriage – she is Catholic, he is not. At one point, the non-Catholic said, “I don’t know anything about Jesus”. I don’t remember the last time I heard someone say that. There are a few things to say about this, but one of them is that it’s exciting! It would be exciting to talk to him about Jesus Christ. I made the offer to talk to him on a beginner’s level, like “Jesus Christ for Dummies”. Hopefully, he takes me up on it!
What would be the first thing you’d say about Jesus to someone who didn’t know anything about him?
Would you start with the story of Jesus in the Gospel? Or, would you first talk about him in your life?
I would probably start with how I’ve come to know him. I knew ABOUT him growing up. In college, I got to know him. I first really met him in the Eucharist, and have been in love ever since. I have experienced the same happiness in getting to know him that people in the Gospel experienced. That’s confirms that it is real. He is real. He is awesome!
3rd Sunday Lent
Woman at well
LOVE, compassion, understanding, challenge, guidance
Real husband / Messiah/ consecrated
Encounter with Him who accompanies you
Last Sunday, those of us at Community Sunday had quite an experience. At the end of our excellent lunch, we began to watch a documentary about a recent miracle involving the Eucharist in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The first half of the 14-minute video explained the incredible details which I have summarized below. The second half is a recap of the miracle by an American priest which helped all of us to know exactly what happened. As someone in our crowd said, “you could hear a pin drop” while the video was playing. It was very moving!
I explained to the group that this is part of our new “family evangelization.” The idea is for you, the faithful parishioners of Assumption, to send this video to your family members. Much of the discussion after the documentary centered on exactly how to do that. We explained that the video is posted on the parish’s website, and that you can direct your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, siblings and others there. Or, you can copy and paste this link – https://youtube.com/watch?v=UXuLKaLVQc – and email it to them. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us in the rectory at any time.
All of us were amazed at what the video showed. The physical evidence “proves” that Jesus is truly and really present in the Eucharist – it’s really His flesh and blood! We have taken that on in faith all of our lives, but this miracle (which has not yet been formally approved by the Church) helps us so much to know without a doubt that it’s real. Jesus continues to perform miracles to help our faith, and He will help the faith of your family members with this incredible event.
We’ve already received feedback from some parishioners that their families are very interested in this video. Please God, we pray, pray, pray: bless this new endeavor to bring your children and our children fully back to you, especially in the Eucharist.
May you know the peace of Christ,
I hope that those of you who participated in the Revival enjoyed it thoroughly. My favorite part was when the spectacular revivalist talked about the Eucharist on Tuesday night. He actually used the phrase “center of our life”. I was hooting and hollering! One of the priests who knows about my C.O.O.L. pamphlet on the Eucharist jokingly said to me, “did he get that from you?” Here is the section of the pamphlet that specifically focuses on the Eucharist as the center of our lives (C.O.O.L.):
Think of or even make a list of 10 people, places or things that are most important to you. Family members, boyfriend/girlfriend, friends, the beach, sentimental items, other valuable possessions, money, clothes, DVDs, and car might top your list. Now, take a few minutes (or longer), and rank these items 1-10 in importance to you (1 is most important).
Why are these things most important to you? What do you find or receive in each one? Most likely, you come in contact with them regularly, maybe even daily. If it is a person, what is it about her that you find attractive? What are you looking for from her? How often do you talk with or see him? What do you experience in his presence? If it is a thing, why do you use it? What does it give you? How often do you use it? If it is a place, why is it so special? The people or things that are most important to us say a lot about who we are.
Ultimately, there is one thing we are all looking for: happiness. We want to be truly happy each day and have chosen these people or things to get us there. Some of them help us to find happiness, and some of them don’t. There are some things in our lives that are not good for us, but we still go to them regularly. For example, an alcoholic might have listed bourbon as one of his 10 things because it takes him away from his problems. While it may bring him temporary pleasure, it doesn’t bring him true happiness.
Now, if he didn’t make your top ten list, please add God as a late entry. Specifically, write “the Eucharist.” Take a moment and compare Jesus Christ to all of the items on your list. Jesus died for you. The Eucharist is a living memorial of what Jesus did for you 2000 years ago on the Cross, and what he does for you every day. He gives you his life. He gives you love. He gives you true happiness. No other person, place, or thing can give you what the Eucharist gives you.
The Eucharist is c.o.o.l. (center of our lives). It is truly the flesh and blood of him who created us and saved us. He is as alive in the Eucharist as you and I are alive. He wants to be number one on your list. He is always there for you. He made you. He knows everything about you. Everything you’re going through. Every pain, struggle, joy, stress, disappointment, fear, success, hope, and love you’re experiencing. He wants to experience them with you. He wants you to experience them with him. He wants to be a very real part of your life. He is waiting for you in the Eucharist.
There are so many things that Fr. Roy joyfully proclaimed about the Eucharist that I hope are deeply embedded in your minds and hearts:
- In Holy Mass and especially in the Consecration, the priest steps into not only the shoes of Christ, but his whole person! This is the meaning of in persona Christi. The priest acts in the person of Christ.
- The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is a re-presentation of Calvary. (It’s not that Jesus dies over and over again – Scripture says he died “once and for all”. Rather, his sacrifice on the Cross is re-presented by the power of the Holy Spirit in the form of bread and wine. And, it’s His same Body and Blood, as He says in John 6:51, the only difference being that it’s His risen Body and Blood.)
- Mass is also a re-presentation of the Last Supper in that we hear the words Jesus said and honor his command to “do this in memory of me”.
- Mass is a banquet and a meal as well, centered on the Bread of Life which I think Fr Roy called “the greatest food in the world”.
- The Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ.
May you know the peace of Christ,
Stay as apostles thru toughest test: Christ’s passion and death
Stay as disciples thru toughest test
Now? Unanswered prayers?
Still on team, playing in game, cuz of
your Transfiguration experience w Him
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”
This popular saying of our Lord in today’s Gospel is one of our favorites! We love, love, love hearing about rest from Christ. Yes, we are tired from all the good work we try to do. Yes, we have many burdens from the stresses of life. But, just the idea of rest…true rest…ahhhh.
The best opportunity for receiving the rest that can only come from Christ is in prayer. Prayer brings rest to our souls, spirits, and even bodies. If you are a prayer, then you know what I mean and have experienced this. Prayer calms us, and gives us a sense of the presence of the Lord. It is that presence that we experience when we come to Jesus. So, how can we come to Jesus to receive His rest?
In the world, daily prayer takes us to Christ. It can be hard to find a quiet, peaceful place to enter into the presence of Christ. Archbishop Fulton Sheen used to say it took the first twenty minutes of his daily holy hour to just calm down, be rid of the noise of the world, and be quiet with God. Daily Mass is the best opportunity for us to come to Christ and encounter His Real Presence in the Eucharist. Catholic devotions like the rosary help us to raise our hearts and minds to the things of Heaven which inherently bring (eternal) rest. Retreats are very effective in bringing rest to those who take a break from the labors and burdens of the world. In a way, daily prayer is like a mini-retreat every day. This has been my experience with my daily Holy Hour.
Here are some verses from the Psalms which speak of the Lord’s rest. Also, following the Psalms is a Christian poem about the true rest of Christ. When I write each week that I wish you to know the peace of Christ, I also wish that you know the rest of Christ. May you know the peace and rest of Christ this week.
“ In the Lord I take refuge”.
“Fear and trembling overwhelm me;
Shuddering sweeps over me.
I say, ‘If only I had wings like a dove
That I might fly away and find rest”.
“ Return, my soul, to your rest;
The Lord has been good to you.
For my soul has been freed from death.
My eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling”.
“Happy those whom you guide, Lord,
Whom you teach by your instruction.
You give them rest from evil days,
While a pit is being dug for the wicked”.
All of the signs are there
You’ve seen the crowds grow larger by the day, following one man. You’ve seen him heal the blind, the deaf, and the mute. You’ve seen him cure the sick. You’ve heard his great teachings. You’ve seen him walk on water. All of the signs are there: Jesus of Nazareth is the one to follow. You’ve been sure for weeks now. Your heart is pumping. You’re talking about him with everyone. You have been reading the Scriptures more frequently, reviewing what Isaiah and the other prophets wrote about the Messiah.
You Can’t Put Your Finger on It
You haven’t talked with Jesus yet, but you feel a connection there. The words he uses, the way he speaks, the manner in which he conducts himself. He has such a powerful way about him. But you haven’t been able to put your finger on it just yet. You just know you want to be near him and learn from him. He is different, a man set apart from the rest. This man has stirred your heart and mind like no other person has ever done.
It’s So Confusing
And, now, he is introducing a brand-new teaching. “The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world” (John 6:51). He is telling everyone that the bread to which he is referring is his flesh. While you begin to process this, those around you quarrel. People are outraged but are mainly confused. So, Jesus gets more specific and emphatic. “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life… My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink” (53, 55). Whoa! Jesus of Nazareth wants to give his flesh and blood as food and drink.
Too Hard to Accept
This realization spreads through the crowd. It is such a large gathering, and it takes a while for everyone to hear what’s been said. Slowly, people start to leave. “This is a hard teaching…who can accept it?” (60) is what you hear some of them say as they turn away from Jesus. And, you agree, this is a hard teaching. But, you haven’t moved, and aren’t planning on leaving just yet.
You look over at Jesus’ closest disciples. You notice a very perplexed Peter. Jesus asks them if they are leaving, too. Peter says, with probably a dazed and confused look, “Lord, where are we going to go? You have the words of eternal life” (68). When you hear these words come from Peter’s lips, your heart skips a beat. You are thinking, ‘Has Jesus just been speaking the words of eternal life? Is this, in fact, a message from heaven? Could this be true? Is he really going to give us his flesh to eat? And, will it get us to heaven? Is this the newest, most radical teaching from God? Do I believe what I am hearing?’
What Would You Do?
This is the beginning of the pamphlet I wrote years ago, “C.O.O.L.,” which has been in the vestibule of our church for a while. My goal was to place you (and any reader) in the scene of John 6 which is the Gospel for today’s feast of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi). You’ve heard this Gospel passage many times, but what would it have been like to be there when it was first heard by anyone? Would you have been with the crowd, and rejected the “hard” teaching? Or, would you have been with the Apostles and stayed with the Lord because Jesus has the “words of eternal life”? Please meditate on this.
Two significant points from this scene which is known as the Bread of Life Discourse
- The Jewish crowds took Jesus’ teaching about the Eucharist literally. They had a pretty visceral reaction to all the talk about flesh and blood – they quarreled, grumbled, etc. When Jesus heard this, he didn’t back off; in fact, he went deeper. He repeatedly referred to his flesh and blood: “flesh” five times, and “blood” four times. And, when he said we must eat his flesh, he actually used the word, “gnaw” (“whoever gnaws on my flesh”). After hearing all of this, the crowds decided to leave the Lord. They rejected the Savior. They walked away from salvation. They did all of this over the teaching of the Eucharist. How many Catholics have done the same whether knowingly or not?
- Jesus didn’t stop them from leaving. He didn’t say, “Wait, hold on. I wasn’t speaking literally.” In John 3, he does this with Nicodemus. When Jesus teaches Nicodemus about baptism and being “born from above,” Nicodemus thinks this means for a man to literally “reenter his mother’s womb and be born again.” The Lord basically said, “No, I wasn’t speaking literally. I meant to be ‘born of water and Spirit.’ He doesn’t make this correction with the crowds in John 6 because he was speaking literally about the Eucharist.
Both of these points help us considerably to interpret John 6 as a literal teaching. So, what we celebrate today and every time at Holy Mass is really and truly the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ!
As we honor our fathers today and thank God for all the daily bread they have provided us, we thank our Heavenly Father for the greatest sustenance which is the Bread of Life.
May you know the peace of Christ,
Interesting linksHere are some interesting links for you! Enjoy your stay :)
Fr. Greg Shaffer
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