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.
February 12, 2017
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