YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE 20TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: THE EUCHARIST IS OUR SURE ADVANTAGE TO HEAVEN
BY: REV. FR. COLLINS NDUKWU
The past 3 Sundays have been dealing with the theme: the Bread of Life, and Jesus identifying himself as this Bread of Life. As evident in the gospel passages, each time Jesus makes this claim, the crowd grumbled and murmured against Jesus. Why the murmuring? That there is a “living bread” which came down from heaven is not so much a problem; for their fathers had had manna falling from heaven in their days. But to claim that he, Jesus is this living bread which came down from heaven is an intolerable language. So they argued!
Nevertheless, Jesus did not shy away from this claim, instead on this Sunday, he went further to make eating of this bread, which he identifies as his flesh, the condition for eternal life: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
The blessed assurance tied to partaking in this meal seems to ring a bell of contradiction and confusion, as to what exactly gives this eternal life: “Believing in Him” or “Eating Him”? This is because when he started this long conversation with the crowd, the aid to eternal life was “belief in him”. In verses 40 and 47, he said: “He who believes has eternal life.” So if belief in him guarantees eternal life, why the eating? Why the new demand to eat his body and drink his blood? Why the Eucharist again?
Lacking answers to these doubts, some Christians do not gather around the Eucharist. In fact, they do not believe that Jesus is in the Eucharist, all they can say is that the Eucharist is a mere sign of his presence. It is even sad to notice some Catholics who do not see the Eucharist to be a necessary part of their Sunday Mass attendance. Since they claim that all churches are the same, they lack the wisdom to see this unique food of the Eucharist offered by the Lord of life. They even go as far as refusing the invitation to “come eat the Bread and drink the Wine.”
To such Catholics and indeed to all Christians, St. Paul, in our 2nd reading exhorts: “look carefully…do not be unwise but wise…understand what the will of the Lord demands of you”: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up at the last day.” This is in no way to undermine the place of believing in his Word –for faith in the Eucharist comes by hearing of the Eucharist. Our listening to him is the preparatory step to communion with him. The Eucharist is this communion –hence it is called Holy Communion. When we receive the Eucharist, Christ becomes present in us –we identify ourselves with him, we become like the Lord and can say like the Apostle Paul: “now it is not I that live but Christ lives in me.” And with Christ in us eternity is sure!
Hymn 95 gives us this assurance: “Beloved Lord in heaven above, there, Jesus, thou awaitest me…Yes, thus, I hope thus shall it be, for how can he deny me heaven who here on earth himself hath given?” Dear friends in Christ, if we still have heaven as our ultimate goal, then this Eucharistic meal is our super aid to heaven. May God help us by his grace to be worthy to receive this Eucharist, Amen!
God bless the Church!