-Last Sunday's homily is available by email
-This Sunday's Scriptures can be found at USCCB.org >>>
-I will be celebrating mass this weekend at 9:30am and 6:00pm
I believe the actors in the movie entitled "No Reservations" were Sandra Bullock and child-star Abigail Breslin . It was a rather tender story about the call to love-to self-Sacrificing love. This call to love was manifested in the movie by the "requirement of love" which is to lose everything for its sake and to gain everything by it's Grace. the reservations in the movie had to do with a meal. Interesting.
Our fifth and final homily in this series on the "bread of life discourse" presents us with that precise invitation, opportunity, and challenge. Jesus says to his listeners, his disciples, who murmur against him out loud and have silent reservation in their hearts "will you leave me too?". The entire homily that Jesus has been sharing in dialogue with his followers has been about the new and powerful life available through intimacy with Jesus IN his body from the living Father. When it has become difficult to understand they find it threatening to their sense of self and they leave him.
They are very interested in the miracles that Jesus works, they are very interested in the truth about the Father that Jesus proposes, they are very desirous of this bread for which they will no longer hunger, but they have serious reservations about a life of intimacy with God lived in Jesus' body. They protest. They like all the self-benefiting ideas about Jesus, the miracle worker and the man of faith. But they have serious reservations about his offer of communion.
The faith of the Catholic church, the power of Jesus' Eucharistic presence in the bread of life, our lives of faith in the church are complicated by these same reservations. The incarnate, fleshy, actual, real life complications of belonging to the body of Christ, the church, is actually the only problem or reservation that we as Christians have. Everybody loves Jesus, everybody is inspired by the word of God in the Bible, everybody is looking forward to living forever with God in heaven. It's the church, the vessel, the Body of Christ in which we are called to live our daily lives of faith that gives us pause-reservations. We find it "hard" and we are tempted to walk away. Even if we don't externally walk away, we dwell in and among the church believing, belonging, participating as if we are not IN communion with the body. We are "reserved".
St. Paul's letter to the Ephesians (that has been accompanying the bread of life discourse throughout these five weeks) comes to a culmination today in the image of life with God as a marriage. The embodied communion of two lives, no longer two but one flesh, is held up for us as a goal for our life of faith. The minister asks the engaged couple "have you come here freely, without reservation, to give yourselves to each other in holy matrimony?" No reservations.
That is the level of communion that the faith requires of us as Catholics. Communion is not simply intimacy with Jesus in the sacred host. It is a life of faith lived IN communion with the body of Christ, IN the church. It is a shared life with relative strangers. It is not a cozy fellowship of friends-it is rather a communion of faith-filled members! It is a process of clinging to one another under the conviction that our communion in faith reveals and possesses the grace necessary for salvation. That doesn't always feel like friendship-it is more like marriage or family for sure.
This is a hard teaching, we are tempted to "walk away". It does not always feel like a friendly relationship with Jesus. Will we protest against the embodiment of Christ in the church, the Catholic Church, the imperfect church called to holiness? We are tempted to walk away from what feels threatening to good-feeling self preservation. We are called to have "no reservation"! Are you in?
Get into the ring! How this works...
This is easy! Each week on Thursday I post my homily idea...my main focus for preaching this coming Sunday. What I am hoping for is a reaction from people in the pews. Does my "focus" connect with your daily life, faith, and experience? Or not? Either affirm the direction I am going in (by giving me an example from your life) or challenge me, ask for clarification! Questions are the best! Reaction rather than reflection is what I'm looking for here. Don't be afraid, get in the ring. Ole!