Jesus is the messiah who willingly suffers and dies for our sake, to save us. Here is how we can follow him
Homily for the Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday, September 16th, 2018
Isaiah 50:4-9; Psalm 116:1-9; James 2:14-18 & Mark 8:27-35
By Father Scott Karnik
Today’s readings point to Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the Messiah, and the one who suffers, dies, and rises again to save us and give us eternal life. We know that. Isaiah’s reading today is one of the Suffering Servant songs. This servant speaks about himself. He says he gives his back “to those who beat me,…(Isaiah 50:6)…”my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting”(Isaiah 50:6). This servant has obediently accepted God’s call and will carry it out. Bible commentators say this is a prophecy of Jesus Christ and His Passion. And Jesus teaches this to His disciples and to us today. He says in St. Mark’s gospel, “He began to teach them that the Son of Man had to suffer much, be rejected by the elders, the chief priest, and the scribes, be put to death, and rise three days later”(Mark 8:31). And then St. Mark writes, “He said these things quite openly”(Mark 8:32). We know this. It is what Jesus connects to this that is important. Jesus “summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them:…(Mark 8:34). Jesus is speaking to us, today, His followers. We must imitate Jesus in His sufferings and Passion. We must reflect Him in ourselves. How do we do that?
There is an answer in today’s first reading from Isaiah. It’s in the first sentence. “The Lord God opens my ear that I may hear; and I have not rebelled, have not turned back”(Isaiah 50:4-5). Jesus wants us to hear His teachings, obey them, and persevere in obedience. First, we must listen to His words and teachings and those of His Church. For us, to hear means “to gain knowledge of by hearing; to learn; to listen to with attention; to heed; to entertain the idea”(of something that is said). Of course we can hear, figuratively by reading and praying too. We hear with a humble, uplifted heart to God’s Words in Sacred Scripture here at Mass. We have to be willing to come here to hear with an uplifted heart. Second, Isaiah’s prophecy says “And I have not rebelled,…(Isaiah 50:5). The Suffering Servant, Jesus, obeys. To obey means “to follow the commands or guidance of; to comply with; to execute.” We too must obediently follow Jesus’s vocation of denying ourselves, picking up our crosses, daily, and following Him. Either we must relinquish ourselves totally to the suffering Messiah that we follow, or make ourselves susceptible to an unfavorable judgment. We must obey and lose our lives for Jesus’s sake and the sake of the gospel. We too must suffer and carry Jesus’s Cross to Calvary. And third, Isaiah writes this phrase: “…have not turned back”(Isaiah 50:5). The Suffering Servant accepts his divine vocation. He perseveres in it. So do we. To persevere means “to keep at something in spite of difficulties, opposition, or discouragement.” Jesus teaches that He has a dual destiny. “The Son of Man” must suffer and be glorified later. St. Peter and the other disciples fail to understand the association of suffering and death Jesus must undergo in His office of Messiah. We have difficulty doing the same thing. It requires humility and humility is a bad word in today’s world.
All of this is important because there is no other way to conform to Jesus and receive the salvation He offers us. It really is His Way or the highway. This is important for us because in our own church, in our own faith, there are people who say they’re Catholic but they subscribe to the way of the (sinful) world. That is first for them. They pay lip service to their faith and place their hearts elsewhere. They are not to be followed or imitated. Jesus is to be followed. His way is the only way. To follow Jesus we must deny ourselves, pick up our cross daily, and follow Him through hearing, obeying, and persevering to the bitter end, which leads to the glorious salvation and life which will never end.
Homily for the Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), Sunday, September 9, 2018:
Isaiah 35:4-7; Psalm 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10; James 2:1-5, and Mark 7:31-37
By Father Scott Karnik
God shows no favorites. He has no distinctions. God’s salvation is universal. He offers His Son’s salvation to everyone. God grants universal salvation to every repentant sinner, rich or poor, Jew or Gentile, or Samaritan. God is impartial to us and our status in His Church is equal. So therefore, God calls all to life, and even favors the poor, orphans, and widows, to make them rich in faith. So therefore, the Church must reflect God’s actions and love in its structure. Partiality is an unjust judgment. It contradicts God’s judgment. The majority of the first converts to the Christian faith were poor. God makes them heirs of eternal life instead of beneficiaries of material riches. Partiality is based exclusively on material appearance, which often belies the interior character. In St. James’s reading he says “Listen,” (hear with thoughtful attention), my beloved brothers and sisters. Did not God choose those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that He promised to those who love Him?(James 2:5). So therefore, a Church which shows no partiality is united and reflects God’s love, which infinite and impartial. That is point number one and St. James makes it well.
Point number two is that we can know God’s real presence by its effects. Isaiah 35 shows some of them. God comes with vindication. To vindicate means “to set free, deliver: to protect from attack or encroachment.” And who does God come to with vindication? It is “…to those whose hearts are frightened:…(Isaiah 35:4). And God comes with “divine recompense (Isaiah 35: 4). Recompense means “to give compensation to: repay.” “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing(Isaiah 35:5-6). Then the psalm reading tells more about this God and His loving presence with us. This God “…keeps faith forever, secures justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets captives free. The Lord gives sight to the blind; the Lord raises up those who were bowed down. The Lord loves the just; the Lord protects strangers. The fatherless and the widow the Lord sustains but the way of the wicked He thwarts”(Psalm 146:6-10). The singer of this psalm encourages his hearers to trust in God alone and not mere mortals. If Israel relies on God alone, its happiness is assured. God has created everything. And God’s creation includes governance of all people. God’s faithful and powerful care makes an environment fit for human beings and maintains society in justice and peace. And God does one more thing. God expresses His kingship in the favor He shows to the oppressed and to those who rely exclusively on Him. Zion’s God will reign forever.
In St. Mark’s gospel, he highlights Jesus’s supernatural healings to show His divinity. But Jesus desires secrecy. Jesus wants both Jews and Gentiles to accept His identity and messiahship on His terms, not their own. Jesus heals miraculously both Jew and Gentile. But Jesus also suffers and shows His messiahship in His death on the Cross for our salvation. Jesus serves and suffers. So must we. It is incomplete to do good deeds and not attend church. It is incomplete to attend church but not serve those in need.
Homily for the Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday, September 2nd, 2018:
Deuteronomy 4:1-8; Psalm 15:1-5; James 1:17-27; and Mark 7:1-23
By Father Scott Karnik
“You get out of something what you put into it.” That’s probably the best lesson we can learn from this Sunday’s Bible readings. In today’s first reading from Deuteronomy, Moses tells the Israelites to “hear and observe the statutes and the ordinances which I teach you, and do them;…(Deut 4:1). Moses tells the Israelites to obey the law carefully. “You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it; that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you”(Deut 4:2). Exact observance is required. Sacred Scripture also says we must make room for God’s Word in our souls. St. James writes “Therefore put away all filthiness and rank growth of wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls”(James 1:21). St. James writes that God’s Word has created us and lives in us to save us but His Word must be carried out. “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves”(James 1:22). God has made the world with a purpose and has chosen us. Our God is a moral god. God’s moral purpose pervades the universe of His chosen ones and those who commit themselves to a moral god must be moral themselves. God is faithful, so must we. True religion observes the connection between covenant faith and covenant love. Today’s psalm reading lists the virtues required of a worthy citizen of Zion, Mount Zion. God’s Presence is located there, in His Temple.
Moses explains why the Israelites, and we today, must observe carefully God’s commandments. It is “…that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers gives you”(Deut 4:1). God promises the Israelites a long life lived peacefully in the land God will lead them into so they can possess it. There are motives for our obedience. I encourage you to read all of Deuteronomy, Chapter Four. You and I are required to receive God’s commandments meekly, know them, and do them. We receive them and we do them so that our virtues are visible to others. That’s another motive, renown. Israel’s pagan neighbors will acknowledge that Israel’s God is closer to it than their own pagan gods are to them. And another motive is the excellence of God’s law itself. What other law is more excellent than God’s law? We get out of it what we put into it. We observe carefully God’s Word and teachings; we receive them. Then, we do them so that what comes out of us is pure religion and the virtues listed in Psalm 15. That is what Jesus refers to in the Gospel reading. He rejects the praise of our lips. Jesus says the soul is the seat of our moral life. It is from there that evil thoughts and affections emerge to cause moral defilement. One’s acts which are inspired from within show when a person is not obeying God’s commands, or is obeying them.
Those are the lessons and the tough challenges given us today in Sacred Scripture. But there’s one more thing. God is faithful to His Covenant with Israel, even though Israel is not. Israel will be exiled to Babylon. They begin to lose hope of ever returning to the Promised Land. Read Isaiah, Chapter 40. God tells the exiled Jews that they will return. God forgives them.
***** There are parallels between today’s readings and Holy Mother Church. You have heard all the dismaying reports and the dirty laundry. But Holy Mother Church’s relationship with Jesus Christ is unique. It is Eucharist, Jesus’s Bread of Life Discourse which makes it so. It is also unique because Jesus builds His Church on the rock of St. Peter. Jesus promises that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”(Matthew 16:17-19). Sadly, we’ve been here before in our Church’s history. There have been schisms, abuses, sinful leaders. Through it all, only this church is two-thousand-years old and still here. Jesus is present here in His Sacraments. The Holy Spirit is also present in this church. Read John 14:15. This church, this faith, is unique, when we carry out God’s teachings, amplified by this church’s teaching authority. May we pray and observe God’s commandments amplified by this church’s teachings. When we do, priests and faithful, we bear virtue and renown in this world. We will also be worthy of God’s presence. So please pray for an increase of the Holy Spirit on this Church. Please pray for many graces for her leaders, her priests, and her faithful to return to holiness and to strengthen our holiness. That is a good place to start because we, you and I, need that right now in this Church’s time. “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us SINNERS, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”
Homily for 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), Sunday, August 26th, 2018:
By: Fr. Scott Karnik
Today’s gospel reading is the epilogue to Jesus’s Eucharistic Discourse. It describes the reactions to His Teaching on the Eucharist being His Own Body and Blood. There are reactions.
First, the murmuring of the Jews against Jesus’s teaching now spreads. “Many of Jesus’s disciples who were listening murmured about His teaching. To “murmur” means to “complain or grumble.” These disciples have a crisis of faith. “This saying is hard;…” These disciples think about cannibalism. They think materially. “Who can accept it?”(v. 60). St. John wrote this in his gospel to fortify the faith of his own church in Jesus’s Real Presence in Eucharist, Holy Communion. St. John adds to this a difficult teaching. St. John quotes Jesus saying to His murmuring disciples the scandal of His Own Ascent “…to where He was before?”(v.62). That means, of course, to His Throne in Heaven. But the first step of that ascent is Jesus’s ascent on the Hill of Calvary, where He will be crucified and die to save us. Then He will rise. The Scripture commentary I studied says we eat the flesh of Jesus in His celestial glory, where He is seated eternally at God’s right hand. Jesus says “It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail”(v. 63). The many disciples who reject Jesus and His Eucharistic teaching think carnally, not spiritually. Their view is of no avail, useless. Their human reason cannot comprehend Jesus’s revealed truth without the light of the Holy Spirit. They lack faith, do not understand, “drew back and no longer walked with Him”(v. 66). Remember this. Jesus had hand-picked these disciples. They were good people. They would do good things for Jesus’s Church, His new worship society. So if Jesus is speaking symbolically, He has the opportunity to tell them so. Indeed, Jesus has the obligation to tell them so, in order to eliminate a misunderstanding about Eucharist, which persists to this very day. These are good disciples and Jesus will not let them walk away based on a misunderstanding. This is the first schism in the Church, and it happens right before Jesus’s eyes. He does not abandon His teaching. Judas Iscariot rejects Jesus’s teaching. Judas stays with the Twelve but enters into darkness, defects, and betrays Jesus. When Jesus says “…the flesh is of no avail”(v. 63), He is talking carnal understanding. He is not speaking about His Own Flesh, which gives eternal life. These disciples’ reactions hurt and sadden Jesus. Jesus said in an apparition to St. Josefa Menendez that “The Holy Eucharist is the invention of Love….Yet how few souls correspond to that love which spends and consumes itself for them!...I live in the midst of sinners that I may be their life, their physician, and the remedy for the diseases bred by corrupt nature. And in return they forsake, insult, and despise me!...”
The second reaction comes from “the Twelve(v. 67). Jesus asks them, “Will you also go away?”(v. 67). Notice the word “also.” Jesus knows that He has lost those many disciples because of His Eucharistic teaching. Jesus will not compromise it. Jesus wishes for all of them and all of us to receive His Teaching with a purity of soul. He now asks His priests, His church leaders, His Apostolic College for their belief. St. Peter accepts. St. Peter takes the risk and opens his heart. St. Peter says to Jesus, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God”(vv. 68-69). St. Peter believes Jesus’s teaching in faith, even though he does not yet understand it. He will later.
May we believe in faith. May we accept this hard teaching. May we heed Jesus’s appeal from the heart. This beautiful sacrament of Jesus Christ’s real Body and Blood in Eucharist is meant to unite all of us in perfect unity. Therefore Jesus gave us the beautiful Sacrifice of Holy Mass in order to change the bread and wine into His Body and Blood, His Soul, His Divinity, and His Grace. This presents the reality of Jesus’s One and Only saving Sacrifice. Jesus’s One and Only Sacrifice is infinite, omnipotent, and timeless. We are not. We are confined in time and space. That’s why there is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Only in this Church can Jesus offer Himself really and truly in Eucharist. Only in this Church can you come to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to encounter Jesus’s Real Presence in the sacramental form of Eucharist and in Sacred Scripture. He does this to save us from sin and death. Jesus told St. Josefa Menendez “The greater your helplessness, the more My Power will sustain you. I shall rest in you, and you will have life in Me.”
Homily for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), Sunday, August 19th, 2018:
Fr. Scott Karnik
Jesus’s words in the first verse of today’s gospel are the same as the last verse in last Sunday’s gospel: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is MY FLESH for the life of the world.” It causes the Jews much consternation. They know exactly what Jesus is saying. They understand Him perfectly. And yet, Jesus will continue His argument.
First Jesus says “Amen, amen,…” “Amen” means “so be it.” Jesus knows that they know exactly what He is saying and He will stand by it.
Second, Jesus amplifies his argument by saying “…unless you EAT THE FLESH of the Son of Man and DRINK HIS BLOOD, YOU DO NOT HAVE LIFE WITHIN YOU.” Refusing to eat Jesus’s flesh and to drink His Blood has an effect-a lack of life within. Jesus says that “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.” It is Jesus’s Body and Blood which is life-giving. He says “For my flesh is TRUE FOOD, and my blood is TRUE DRINK. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” No symbol can do this. It is only Jesus’s Body and Blood that accomplishes this. Notice that Jesus says “I am the LIVING BREAD that came down from heaven;…” Bread is an inanimate object. But Jesus inserts His very Life into it. How? He does it at the sacrifice of Holy Mass. Jesus died on the Cross once and for all for our sins. It is His glorified and resurrected Body and Blood that we receive in Eucharist and consume. It is His Body and Blood after His Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven that we eat and drink. That is where the eternal life is located. We receive His glorified and resurrected Body and Blood here at Holy Mass in the sacrament of Eucharist, which He gave to us at the Last Supper. You have to come here to receive Him. You cannot get this watching a sunrise or sunset on a lake, or sitting on a mountain top, or in a forest.
Third, Jesus is clearly talking about something other than simply faith nourishment. In this gospel the verb “believe” disappears. It is replaced by “flesh,” “blood,” “eat,” and “drink.” Jesus shifts radically the vocabulary. The verb “eat” is repeated six times in today’s gospel. Jesus says it five times and the Jews say it once. Jesus also says “feeds on me” once. Jesus is clearly referring now to a sacramental nourishment for our souls that gives us the eternal life that Jesus Christ now has. It will be activated on the last day. Jesus’s description grows and becomes more explicit, not less. In verse 54, the best translation of the Greek verb is to “gnaw” or to “chew.”
Fourth, Jesus is doing something incredible, miraculous, and supernatural here. Jesus says “For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” St. Therese the Little Flower referred to her First Communion as a fusion with Jesus Christ, not a meeting with Him. To fuse means “to unite by or as if by melting together”; “blend,” “integrate.” That’s what verse 57 refers to. Jesus gives us His eternal life, which He received when God the Father raised Him up on Easter Sunday. Jesus says “Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.” Jesus in this verse, verse 58 refers to the flow of eternal life from the Father to the Son. That same flow of life extends from Jesus Christ’s glorified, risen Body and Blood to us who eat His glorified, supernatural flesh and drink His glorified, supernatural Blood. His Body and Blood in Eucharist is readily available to everyone who believes His words about this.
This is incredibly shocking to the Jews but Jesus stands by it. One more thing: you have to come here to receive Jesus’s Body and Blood in Eucharist, to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Pope John Paul II wrote “The sacrifice of the Cross is so decisive for the future of man that Christ did not carry it out and did not return to the Father until He had left us the means to take part in it as if we had been present. Christ’s offering on the Cross-which is the real Bread of Life broken-is the first value that must be communicated and shared. The Mass and the Cross are but one and the same sacrifice….By making the Body and Blood of Christ really present under the species of bread and wine, it makes-simultaneously-the Sacrifice of the Cross actual and accessible to our generation, this Sacrifice which remains, in its uniqueness, the turning point of the history of salvation, the essential link between time and eternity.” That is from Pope John Paul’s Message to the Eucharistic Congress at Lourdes.” The closest we come to heaven is right here at Holy Mass, when Jesus comes down at the words of consecration and changes the bread and wine into His Body and Blood. This is also something we must do to receive Jesus’s eternal life.
Jesus sticks to His argument, He amplifies it to the Jews, He goes deeper than faith nourishment, and He gives us eternal life by this holy and supernatural act. He does this only here, at the Sacrifice of the Mass. This can change our lives. This can strengthen our repentance and our personal love for Jesus Christ and His Father. Indeed, this is what it is meant to do, to give us eternal life.
Homily for the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (B), Wednesday, August 15th, 2018:
By Father Scott Karnik
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven. It is a teaching of the Roman Catholic Church for the past 68-years. Pope Pius the XIIth declared it. Sacred Scripture is silent about this. But God is not. This event speaks loudly of resurrection.
God assumes the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven at her death. She does not ascend into heaven on her own, like her Son, Jesus Christ did. This is something God has done. And God does it for a reason. God does it to show us what He intends for each of us. God wants to take us into the eternal happiness of heaven to be with Him in love. And Exhibit A is the Blessed Virgin Mary. This is what God wants. God loves us that much that He has given us an example of His loving intent, His loving plan.
The Blessed Virgin Mary’s death is an example of the blessed death that is available to us. St. Alphonsus Ligouri wrote that the Blessed Virgin Mary died 1: detached from all earthly things, 2: with a peaceful conscience, and 3: certain of eternal glory. The Blessed Virgin Mary died detached from all earthly things because she was united more closely to God. She died with a peaceful conscience because she was always holy and pure. And she died certain of eternal glory because she was always full of grace. She did not squander it. St. Alphonsus Ligouri wrote that the Blessed Virgin Mary loved only Jesus. Jesus is in heaven and all of Mary’s desires were in heaven too. So therefore, her peace was only to be united with God. The place and treasure of her heart was God alone. That’s what St. Alphonsus Ligouri wrote about Mary’s Assumption is his book The Glories of Mary. The Blessed Virgin Mary is an example of how we must prepare for our own deaths: detached from earthly things, with a peaceful conscience, and certain of eternal glory.
Beyond death, there is resurrection through faith in Jesus Christ, as St. Paul writes in his letter to the Corinthians. The faithful who died before Christ’s Second Coming will rise at that coming. So the over-arching theme of the readings and of Mary’s Assumption is resurrection.
The gospel from Luke tells some things about the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary is charitable. She goes hastily to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Mary does so because she has learned that Elizabeth is pregnant. She goes to help Elizabeth. Mary is humble. God is gracious to the lowly and the poor. That is Mary’s response to St. Elizabeth when Elizabeth identifies her as the “mother of my Lord.” Mary says there is no need to compliment her. God deserves the honor and glory. Mary needs salvation. Mary receives it from God Himself. Mary is a child of Adam. She is fully human. Mary needs her Son’s redemption. She received it and it gained her for the preventive grace which saved her from the stain of all sin, actual and original. She would be the Mother of God. God prepared her for that. Mary is completely unique in that regard.
God has given Mary a special role in heaven. The Blessed Virgin Mary is our spiritual mother. She is also someone God sends to give us graces to employ. Those graces include praying the Rosary, and other devotions. She is also an ambassador. She appears to us at various times to warn us, encourage us, and to tell us to confess our sins, to do better, and to go to Holy Mass on Sunday, and receive her Son Jesus in Holy Communion, and to repent of our sinfulness. Mary performs active roles for us and she does them well and with the approval of God the Father and Jesus, God’s Son and Mary’s. Reach out to her in prayer. Imitate her. You will find that when you do, you will become more like Jesus. It is Jesus who saves us, not Mary. But Mary is an example of what will happen to those who serve and fear God and His Only Begotten Son. That is resurrection and life with God in Heaven.
Homily for the Nineteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time, (B), Sunday, August 12th, 2018:
By Father Scott Karnik:
Jesus’s central teaching about Eucharist in today’s gospel is in verse 51: “I myself am the living bread come down from heaven. If anyone eats this bread he shall live forever; and the bread I will give is my flesh for the life of the world”(Jn 6:51). If Jesus is speaking symbolically, He can stop right at “If anyone eats this bread he shall live forever;…” If Jesus is using this as a metaphor, He can stop right there and there’s no misunderstanding. He is a symbol and if we eat this bread, meaning believe in His Word, we have eternal life and are saved. But Jesus today tells us what this bread of life is. It is His Own Flesh.
The Jews start to disagree with Jesus when He says He is the bread that came down from heaven. They say, “no, you’re not. You are Jesus, Son of Joseph and Mary, from Nazareth. You are a carpenter, just like your father. We know your brothers and sisters and cousins.” Jesus gets in trouble for identifying Himself as the Son of God. Jesus tells them to stop murmuring. Jesus repeats that He is the Bread of Life, come down from Heaven, and then He tells them what this Bread of Life is. It is His Own Flesh. Jesus has made this clear, from Sacred Scripture. Jesus Christ is the Eucharistic source of eternal life for all who eat and drink the flesh and blood of the heavenly and glorified Son of Man. Jesus is superior to the manna that the forefathers ate in the desert. Jesus is a superior Moses who gives this bread. So Point Number One is “…and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”
The second point is that this bread/flesh is more excellent than the manna that came from heaven to feed the Israelites in the desert. That manna would spoil if the Israelites kept it over one day. One of the great Church Fathers, St. Ambrose, wrote that “the Flesh of Christ…is incorruptible so that whoever shall have piously consumed it will not experience corruption….The Body of the Giver [is] more excellent than the manna from heaven.” St. Ambrose continues: “You have read about the creation of the whole world: ‘He spoke and they were made; he gave a command and they were created’ (Ps 33:9). Therefore cannot the word of Christ, which was able to create out of nothing that which did not exist, change those things that do exist into that which they were not? To create new things is no lesser thing than to change natures.” God has the power to do this. We must have the faith to believe this. Jesus changes the nature of the elements into His Flesh and Blood. There is a real change in the very nature of the bread and wine that is so profound that it becomes the “Body that comes from the Virgin” and “that was crucified and buried.” Jesus’s grace is stronger than nature. This change into His Flesh and Blood is real. Jesus’s grace is stronger than our natures, so He can change us too.
The third point is that we must consume Jesus Christ’s Flesh and Blood in Eucharist, the Bread of Life to be changed by Him, into copies of Him. Jesus appeared to a nun in the early 1920’s. Her name was Sister Josefa Menendez. She is now a saint. Jesus told her “For under the species of Bread and Wine the real presence of God lies concealed. Under this veil, I am there whole and entire,…It is thus that one consecrated to Jesus Christ by the vow of virginity must be hidden under a veil of modesty and simplicity, so that under the appearances of her humanity, a purity like that of the angels may be concealed.” We see Bread. We taste Wine. But we consume Jesus Christ. Jesus enters us. He changes us and people see Him through us. Now we get into St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians. The author lists virtues to replace vices within us. Forgiveness is prominent since God has forgiven us in Jesus Christ. The author asks his readers to imitate God. Jesus Christ’s Body and Blood changes our sinful natures. But this is not a snap conversion. It requires continual renewal. We must put on the new self. Jesus will be seen by others through the virtues we put on, that we accept, imitate, and practice. That means coming to confession, Holy Mass, and offering ourselves to Jesus, who offers Himself to us in Eucharist. “The dwelling place of our hearts is a temple sacred to the Lord.” That comes from a letter by St. Barnabas. St. Clare wrote to another nun that “…you may adorn yourself, mind and body, with an enveloping garment of every virtue, and thus find yourself attired in flowers and gowns befitting the daughter and most chaste bride of the king on high.” A great priest, St. Cajetan, wrote that “He has offered Himself to be our food….To us has been given the opportunity to receive Christ, son of the Virgin Mary, and we refuse him. Woe to that man who does not care enough to receive him….Ask her (the Blessed Virgin Mary) to give you her Son, who in the blessed sacrament of the altar is truly the food of your soul. Readily will she give him to you, still more readily will he come to you, giving you the strength to make your way fearlessly through this dark wood. In it large numbers of our enemies lie in wait, but they cannot reach us if they see us relying on such powerful help. Then St. Cajetan concludes with this: “Nor, my child, must you receive Jesus Christ simply as a means to further your own plans; I want you to surrender to him, that he may welcome you and, as your divine Savior, do to you and in you whatever he wills. This is what I want, this is what I beg of you, this, as far as I can, is what I compel you to do.”
Jesus changes us when we receive Him wholeheartedly in Eucharist. “For hidden and annihilated there (in Eucharist) is the greatness and power of God”(Jesus Christ speaking to St. Josefa Menendez).
Bishop Folda's Homily Given On 17th Sunday In Ordinary Time
Homily for the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday, August 5th, 2018:
God’s power works through His Son, Jesus Christ. In St. John’s Gospel, Chapter Six, Jesus tells us that He works through Eucharist. This is a miraculous act on Jesus’s part and His Father’s. Last week, Jesus miraculously multiplied the five barley loaves to feed five-thousand-men. Last week’s Gospel reading is a perfect scriptural reference to the Holy Mass. Read that. The parallels are obvious. The people want to make Jesus a king. Jesus avoids them and returns to Capernaum. They follow and catch up to Him there. That’s where today’s gospel picks up. Jesus speaks bluntly. He says they’re looking for Him for another free meal. Jesus tells them to seek the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. Jesus refers to Himself as the “Son of Man” and says He will give the bread that gives eternal life. Jesus says the Father, God, has set His seal on Him. The Jews know exactly what Jesus is saying. So they ask what they can do to accomplish the works to God. Jesus says their work is to believe in the one God the Father has sent-the Son of Man-Jesus Himself. They ask for a sign because their ancestors ate manna in the desert during the Exodus. They quote the Old Testament, Psalm 78:24. Jesus differentiates Himself from that. Jesus tells them that His Father, God, gives the true bread from heaven. That bread comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. Jesus identifies Himself with this bread. He says I AM the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger and whoever believes in me will never thirst.
Notice Jesus says I AM (the bread of life). I AM is the name God gives to Moses when He asks God to identify Himself. Jesus identifies Himself as the superior Moses. Jesus will give a superior, supernatural bread, Himself, His Body, His Blood, in Eucharist. The change will be miraculous, just like the multiplication of the loaves, just like the transformation that will occur here at Holy Mass. Notice that these people come to Jesus. Jesus decides to feed them. Then they follow Him to Capernaum. The parallel is that we come to Jesus here in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, to receive Him, the Bread of (eternal) life. Jesus will give us Himself, His own Body and Blood, in the sacrament of Eucharist, to help us in our spiritual journey to the Promised Land of Heaven. We receive eternal life from Jesus, in Eucharist. This is not a magic potion by which we consume Him and do nothing more. Jesus in the Eucharist unites us to Him and brings us into Him. Jesus in the Eucharist helps us to put away the old self of yours/my former way of life and enables us to put on the new self, created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth. Jesus in Eucharist, His Body and His Blood, unifies. St. Paul writes that members of the Ephesian Church must not live like the pagan Gentiles. You learned Christ by being taught in Him by someone who teaches in Christ. It is in that unified spiritual dynamic that people learn spiritual truths.
Jesus comes to us in a liturgical service, Holy Mass. St. Clement of Rome writes to the Corinthians that the offering of gifts is the equivalent of calling the Eucharistic liturgy a sacrifice, a blameless and worthy offering. St. Ignatius of Antioch tells his church members to accept the invitation of the Father, who will feed the one who accepts the invitation, with the Bread of God, a direct reference to John 6:32-33 where Jesus says “It is not Moses who gave you Bread from Heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Ignatius then identifies “Bread of God” with the Flesh and Blood of Jesus Christ Himself, Jesus the “Son of David.” This is a teaching of the Christian community. It is the identity between the crucified and risen Body of Jesus and the Eucharistic Body that is the foundation of the unity of the Church. Ignatius tells his church to “Be careful to observe one Eucharist; for there is only one Flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ and one cup of union with His Blood, one altar of sacrifice, as there is one bishop with the presbyters and my fellow-servants, the deacons.” Jesus unifies. Jesus brings together.
It is important to remember that: the Eucharist is Jesus Himself, it is sacrifice, thanksgiving, the cause of unity of the Church, spiritual medicine, a promise of Resurrection, and a model for Christians to imitate.
That is what Jesus tells the Jews in the gospel and St. Paul reminds his church members of. As the gospel proceeds, there will be more. Jesus will shock the Jews by saying that this Bread of Life, Himself, is His Flesh to eat and His Blood to drink. There are strong reactions to Jesus’s teaching. Today, Jesus identifies Himself as the Bread of Life, superior manna to the one their ancestors received in the desert.
Homily for the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Sunday, July 29th, 2018:
On July 25th, Holy Mother Church celebrated the Feast of St. James the Apostle. He was the brother of St. John the Evangelist and a martyr for the Church. But July 25th also marked the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s issuance of the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae. Pope Paul VI addressed “the regulation of birth” in his encyclical letter. Here is the first sentence of Humanae Vitae: “The transmission of human life is a most serious role in which married people collaborate freely and responsibly with God the Creator.” Pope Paul VI wrote this encyclical to answer “new questions,” the biggest of which is “man’s stupendous progress in the domination and rational organization of the forces of nature to the point that he is endeavoring to extend this control over every aspect of his own life-over his body, over his mind and emotions, over his social life, and even over the laws that regulate the transmission of life.” Pope Paul VI wrote Humanae Vitae to reflect more deeply on the moral teaching of marriage in the Catholic Church. Pope Paul VI wrote that human procreation involves the whole man and the whole mission to which God calls him, not just biology, psychology, physiology, et cetera. God created married love when He created Adam and Eve. God wants men and women to marry and have children. A husband and wife are to cooperate with God in the generation and rearing of new lives. Married love is fully human, a compound of sense and spirit, faithful and exclusive until death, and is fertile. It generates new life in the world. Pope Paul VI wrote that responsible parenthood recognizes and respects its proper functions. Man’s reason and will must control his and her instincts, urges, and emotions. Every conjugal act of marriage must be open to human life because it is part of God’s natural law. The act of marriage is unitive and procreative. It is reasonable. He wrote that a husband and wife can exercise God’s marital design but cannot alter it. Therefore, “man’s act to interrupt the life-giving process of the marital act, (to include artificial contraception and direct abortion) is unlawful and disobeys God’s design and intention.” Pope Paul VI then reflected on the consequences of artificial methods of birth control. He said “Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards….Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner who he should surround with care and affection. Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law.” Think about Communist China and its one-child policy. Finally, Pope Paul VI wrote that “we must accept that there are certain limits, beyond which it is wrong to go, to the power of man over his own body and its natural functions-limits…which no one, whether as a private individual or as a public authority, can lawfully exceed.” Pope Paul VI’s words were prophetic. 50 years later, look around you. What do you see? You expect me to “toe the corporate line” and I do. But let me read to you these quotes about Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae. “…I believe that Protestants have done themselves a disservice by ignoring Humanae Vitae’s substantial statement on human anthropology and sexuality. Our distaste for things Roman Catholic,…has deprived us of a wealth of theological wisdom on some very important ethical challenges. Protestants would be well-served to study Paul VI’s encyclical and take heed of its warnings. Our acceptance of most forms of birth control is not helping us teach the next generation about sex and sexuality. It is time for us to reconsider our stance.” The person who wrote that is Evan Lenow, associate professor of ethics at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Here’s another one: “If we leave out individual intentions and assess nothing but uncontroversial facts, it is transparently clear that the increased use of contraception has also increased abortion….Rates of contraception usage, abortion, and out-of-control wedlock births all exploded simultaneously…contraception has led to more pregnancy and more abortion because it eroded the idea that men had equal responsibility in case of an unplanned pregnancy. Contraception…sharply reduced the incentive for men to marry….In the new, post-pill order, pregnancy became the woman’s responsibility-and if birth control ‘failed,’ that was not the man’s problem.” …and…”Whatever the anxieties of the moment, however prominent or widespread the disgruntlement, the ever-growing empirical record continues to vindicate Paul VI’s encyclical.” These last two quotes come from senior research fellow Mary Eberstadt, of the Faith and Reason Institute. She is a Catholic author. Listen to this quote: “…we should look closely at the Catholic moral argument as found in Humanae Vitae. Evangelicals will find themselves in surprising agreement with much of the encyclical’s argument. As the Pope warned, widespread use of the Pill has led to ‘serious consequences’ including marital infidelity and rampant sexual immorality. In reality, the Pill allowed a near-total abandonment of Christian sexual morality in the larger culture. Once the sex act was severed from the likelihood of childbearing, the traditional structure of sexual morality collapsed.” That quote is from Doctor Albert Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. And finally this quote: “I urge the advocates of artificial methods (of birth control) to consider the consequences. Any large use of the methods is likely to result in the dissolution of the marriage bond and in free love.”….”There is hope for a decent life only so long as the sexual act is definitely related to the conception of precious life” (as Pope Paul VI advocated in Humanae Vitae). The person who said that was Mahatma Gandhi.
Pope Paul VI’s encyclical has stood the test of time. Humanae Vitae has been prophetic. Pope Paul VI’s vision of what would happen has been prophetic. Holy Mother Church asks everyone who opposes the teachings of the encyclical to reconsider in light of the evidence. If we don’t, what will this world look like 100 years after Humanae Vitae?
February 12, 2017
October 23, 2016
October 2, 2016