You may have heard, because the word has been out for awhile – that in November 2021, the American Bishops kicked off what they are calling a three year Euchristic Revival: which is to culminate with a national Eucharistic Congress to be held in Indianapolis, Indiana, June 17-21, 2024 - the first such event since 1976.
The Bishops want the Church to use the time leading up to the national gathering to inspire, educate, and unite Catholics around the one thing we have that no one else has: the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
We Catholic believe that when Jesus said “this is my Body, this is my Blood” – he meant it. That is, the Eucharist isn’t a symbol of his Body, it isn’t his Body only when we are gathered –
but that He is really present: soul and divinity- in the bread we break and the wine we drink. What an awesome gift God gives to us each and every time we come to the Eucharist.
One way Bishop Johnston wants our local Church to be inspired, educated, and united in the Eucharist – is for all the priests in our Diocese to preach on some aspect of the Eucharist on the first Sunday of every month.
So welcome to month one. And since I was taught you always preach about the readings of the day – welcome to a very difficult month of preaching on the Eucharist. But I did have a whole week of retreat to think about this. . .
So here goes.
The words in today’s Gospel can be hard to hear – whoever loves father or mother, son or daughter more than Jesus – is not worthy of him?
Isn’t Jesus all about love – how many times does he say love one another as I have loved you in the Gospels?
And that’s the point – at least I think . . . it’s about priorities – not about the denial of love. . . or the love of one person, Jesus, at the expense of not loving others. . .
Love one another, as I have loved you. . . so we must first get at HOW Jesus loves us – so we know how to love one another.
The origin of our English word CORE – that is the part of something which is central to its existence or character – such as core values –
or what are the core activities in your science class today – is the Latin word CORDA - which means – heart.
So I think what Jesus is after today in the Gospel – is: what is at our core, what has captured our hearts – as a Christian??
And the answer to that has to be Jesus – or why call ourselves Christian?
Now remember for the last couple of weeks I have said that the Scriptures and our faith are very clear on the fact that God loves us – and we heard a couple of weeks ago from St. Paul in his letter to the Romans – that God proves God’s love for us – in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. . .
So God’s love for us is unconditional – it doesn’t matter what we do or don’t do – no matter what —God loves us — God will not abandon us —
And this is the love that has to be at our core – at the center of our existence and character – in our hearts –
For once that love is there – we can try to love others as unconditionally as God loves us.
Because the truth of the matter is – so many times we love each other conditionally – that is we put limits on it – we often times cut it off if we don’t get what we want or need from others – and that’s just not the way God loves us – nor wants us to love others.
I haven’t lived to be 64, nor have I heard Confessions for over 35 years – not to know the people who are supposed to be the easiest to love in our lives – like fathers, and mothers, and sisters and brothers, and best friends, and fellow Christians — are not always the easiest to love in our lives – mostly because they know exactly what buttons to push to get us going.
And once the buttons are pushed – it’s easy to flip on the switch to conditional love – I’m not getting what I want or need for you – so I am going to cut you off – and that’s not the love God wants us to have for one another.
That’s why we were plunged into the waters of Baptism – so we can live in newness of life – a life where and when and how –
we love each other as God wants us to – unconditionally: with heartfelt compassion, in kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience – as St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Colossians — all of which is impossible to do, unless we have the love of God at our core – in our hearts - to guide and direct us.
One of the things you will probably hear me say often during these first of the month homilies on the Eucharist is –
What difference does it make if the bread and wine ON the altar are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ – if those AT the altar remain the same??
The Eucharist is not just something the Church does — it’s something that we need to become –
For we can venerate the Lord present in Eucharistic Adoration for hours on end.
And we can participate in the Mass: fully, consciously, and actively every week – and even every day –
But if our hearts remain the same – if our core does not change – becoming more and more the image and likeness of Christ who we adore and receive - then what difference does it make??
That’s the Eucharistic revival we need in the Church – to know that the Eucharist can and should have an effect on our lives.
We’re not just putting in time here – we are supposed to be allowing God to love us – and allow that love to change our hearts –
so that we can leave here and do better at loving father, and mother, and sister, and brother –
and those who we meet and encounter each and every day.
So let the revival – begin. So we can go out and make a difference in the world.
Moments in time...