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.”
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