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Homily 17th Week OT John6 “It’s what we do.”

 

You’ve heard that great minds think alike. Well, sometimes we could say that the Holy Spirit inspires some of us lesser minds to think like the greater minds think.
Last week I wrote my bulletin article on “Idol Worship”. I was talking about Television.
Well, I then discovered that the cover story of last week’s Our Sunday Visitor Magazine was on the same topic. Steven Greydanus is a nationally known movie critic and he wrote an article on the very same thing and he gave some great advice on how to control what is watched in your home.
And then I ran across another article. This one by Sister Ann Shields of the Servants of God’s Love religious order in Ann Arbor. She hosts a daily radio show on WDEO called Food for the Journey. She’s done thousands of episodes.
She wrote an article on the topic where she quoted Pope Benedict who spoke of TV watching as something like inhaling pollution. It has an cumulative effect . We may not perceive any harm in it, but slowly and surely it takes its toll. Then one day we wake up and realize that our faith, like our lungs, has been compromised.
None of us great minds really suggested that we need to throw the TV away, but it seemed as if we were all on the same wavelength as to how to live with it. And not allow it to rule over us.
In any case, I do hope you are now more discriminating in what you watch. For your own sake, and for the sake of your children.
And you know, that discernment goes for commercials too. There are some R rated commercials out there and I know that some of you moms and dads have been asked some questions by the kids that can kinda leave you scrambling for a good answer.
But on the other hand, there are some pretty good ones out there too. Innocent, fun, imaginative. My personal favorites are from GEICO. Who doesn’t like that cute little wise-cracking gecko with the Australian accent who wants to save us money on car insurance?
Now they have a new series of commercials with a new theme. They use that current catch phrase we hear a lot these days, “It’s what we do.” In this case it’s selling insurance. That is, it’s what they do.
And my favorite from that series is that “free-range chicken” who rambles the highways and byways of the country, hitching rides on trains and in semis. ( Why? because its what they do.) All to the tune of that song. (Did you know that’s Roy Orbison? Don’t be tempted to look up the lyrics. They’re R-rated)
But you know, I was thinking, that if I was the pope, I would do a commercial for the Catholic Church in which we could use that same catchphrase as the theme for, well, what we do here, in church. We do… Eucharist. We do…. Holy Communion. We do,…. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It’s what we do. And why do we do it? Well, because Jesus told us to. “Do this,” He said, “and when you do it, remember me.” This actually has a technical name in the Church, it’s called anamnesis, or remembrance.
Several weeks back on Corpus Christi I offered you that memento for you to take home with you if you wanted. It was an essay by the late Fr. Gregory Dix, of The Church of England. The Anglican Church. They have a very similar view of Eucharist to what we Roman Catholics do, but with one significant difference. And we’ll discuss that soon.
But Fr. Dix started out by asking a question: Was ever a command so greatly obeyed as the command Jesus gave when he told his disciples at The Last Supper, “Do this, and when you do, remember me?” And so they did it, and the tradition continued through them to every corner of the earth throughout these past 2000 years, being done in every conceivable circumstance.
And he listed some of them. Like at the canonization of St. Joan of Arc, or at the coast of Spain, as Columbus set off to discover a new world, or by a priest alone in a Nazi concentration camp, or on a stump of a tree while a prisoner in Siberia, or at a wedding in a country church, or at a straw chapel in the jungles of Uganda, or on the hood of a jeep before going into battle, or…. or…. or. It’s a very long and diverse list.
You know I have my own list and I’m sure you do too. Masses that may have had a special meaning like the funeral mass of a loved one, a particularly memorable midnight mass from your childhood, or maybe at a World Youth Day with the Holy Father, or at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. before The March for Life.
Yes, the command of Jesus…. has ….been ….obeyed.
For the next 5 weeks we will leave the gospel of Mark and go to St. John and his 6th chapter where the action sets the groundwork for the institution of the Eucharist. This happens in Cycle B and it comes around every 3rd year.
It provides the ideal opportunity to revisit one if the most important topics for Catholics and I’ve made a list of many sub topics that we can discuss. The purpose of it will be to increase our faith in The Eucharist, what the bishops of the Vatican Council called the source and summit of our faith.
Today we opened our catechesis as we read from the Book of Kings which spoke of an incident from ancient times which is related to the Gospel story of the multiplication of the loaves and fish. This type of miracle has happened many times in history. I’ve heard a simple story out of Detroit where Fr. Solanus had taken a truck of food for a needy group somewhere in Wayne County. They know there was not enough in the truck to go around. Or so they thought. Their concerns were unfounded as the truck seemed to supply more that it could hold.
It was a good reading , but if they had asked me, I would have actually chosen a different first reading to start this teaching. It was actually part of the recent weekday masses from Exodus as the Israelites left Egypt. The very first Passover meal took place on the night before they left and that meal was actually the first pre-figuring of the Eucharist. That is, it pointed to a future event. The spotless paschal lamb was slaughtered and then eaten. And that Passover Meal was celebrated, with its new meaning, by Jesus with his disciples, at the last supper on the night before he died.
In the new meaning, Jesus becomes the sacrificial lamb. The Lamb of God, who freely chose ….to shed His blood for the life of the world.
Then in the Gospel, we have Jesus feeding the multitude with the miraculous multiplication of loaves and fishes. Note the details. He had the disciples direct the people to recline . The food was distributed to the crowd. There were leftovers. They weren’t thrown away.
What’s the significance for us? Well, in that setting at the Sea of Galilee, it was something like a mass, in an outdoor church. The people sat in groups and received their food. The leftovers were saved. Nothing would be wasted.
At our mass today, there will be leftovers. And this is where the Catholic view of Eucharist differs from the Anglican or Episcopalian Church. We don’t dispose of them, we actually do something with them. We adore it. We put them into a ciborium, in our tabernacle, or in a monstrance as we do in our Adoration Chapel. And its presence among us is the Real Presence of Christ among us. It’s what makes every Catholic Church a literal House of God.
I think it will be an interesting study, and again, our purpose is to increase our faith, to come to a greater realization of what’s actually happening here. It’s a great miracle but I feel as if it’s taken for granted by many Catholics. I feel as if it’s not really appreciated for what it truly is; Jesus, giving himself to us as spiritual food, and doing so as a sacrificial offering to the Father.
It’s my desire that all of us will believe, with our whole being, that Jesus is really present before us, when I say, Behold the Lamb of God. Behold him who takes away the sins of the World.

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