Dimensions of the Eucharist Week 3: Forgiveness

(Homily for Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B)

Message: Join yourself - just as you are with all your disappointments - to the self-offering of Jesus, the True Bread of Life.

Today we see the third dimension of Jesus Bread of Life: forgiveness. Forgiveness ties in with the first and second dimensions: Food and Faith. It's hard to enjoy a shared meal when you are at odds with the other person. A common meal often involves letting go of irritations, hurts, even grievances. Forgiveness also interconnects with faith. A relationship of trust or faith means a willingness to admit failures, ask pardon and make amends.

Even faith in God requires a kind of "forgiveness." I put forgiveness in quotation marks because God is all good, all wise and all loving. Nevertheless, when we pray to God we should honestly express our disappointments. We see that in today's reading about the prophet Elijah. He is at the end of his rope. He wants to crawl into a hole and die. But he prays or at least he complains to the Lord, then takes a nap. An angel awakens him, tells him to get up, eat something and start walking: one foot after another, forty days Until he arrives at Horeb, the holy mountain. What an example for us. Express your anger honestly. God already knows the confusion in your heart. After praying, rest, eat a simple meal and then get going. One step at a time. Trust God.

So faith and forgiveness go hand in hand. We trust God and we know that he never tires of forgiving. As Pope Francis has often said: "God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy." If you are going to remember one sentence, remember that one: "God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy."

I've talked to you before about forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I am proud that our parish came out number one in frequency of confession, but I want to say something to you today. The main way you and I experience forgiveness is by participating in the Eucharistic Sacrifice. If you listen closely to the Eucharistic Prayer, you will hear the priest say, "This is the chalice of my blood...poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins." Here we have more than mere words - an action takes place: Jesus by his blood, in Holy Spirit, takes you with all your sins to the Father.

What sins are we talking about? St. Paul puts it bluntly: bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, reviling and malice. Have you experienced any of those sins in the last year or two? Maybe the last hour or two? Take your sins to the cross. When you come to the Mass you time travel to Jerusalem, about 30 AD. You kneel at the foot of the cross together with Mary, John and all the saints and angels. St. Paul speaks about the sacrificial offering of Jesus. In the Mass we join ourselves to that offering.

I think of Edith Stein - St. Benedicta of the Cross. Seventy-three years ago (August 9, 1942) she and her sister gave their lives at the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. Our World Youth Day group will visit that site where they joined their lives and deaths to the one sacrificial offering: Jesus the true Bread of Life.

That's the invitation of today's Mass. Experience the peace that comes from joining yourself - just as you are with all your disappointments - to the self-offering of Jesus, the True Bread of Life. Amen.

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Note to fellow homilists - I recently came across some helpful resources:

Archbishop Vigneron published a pastoral letter on preaching. I particularly appreciate the parts on "Preaching to evangelize" and "Try preaching in an ordered series."

The Conservative Heart by Arthur Brooks. Even if you are moderate or liberal, you will enjoy this book. He has great suggestions about how to effectively get one's message across. In addition Brooks is a practicing Catholic who reflects on the applicability of faith to economic and social issues. We of course need to steer clear of "politics" which in our culture comes down to a bunch of sound bytes. Paradoxically, this book will help avoid those pitfalls.

Spanish Version

Plan for the summer months:

June 7: Through Him Week 1: A Dynamic Presence
June 14: Through Him Week 2: How It Is With the Kingdom
June 21: Through Him Week 3: Love of Christ Impels Us
June 28: Through Him Week 4: Do Not Be Afraid, Have Faith
July 5: Building on Strength Week 1: Scripture as Word of God
July 12: Building on Strength Week 2: Teaching Authority of Church
July 19: Building on Strength Week 3: Sacrament of Reconciliation
July 26: Dimensions of the Eucharist Week 1: Food
August 2: Dimensions of the Eucharist Week 2: Faith
August 9: Dimensions of the Eucharist Week 3
August 16: Dimensions of the Eucharist Week 4
August 23: Dimensions of the Eucharist Week 5

From Archives (19th Ordinary Sunday - Year B):

2012: Why Jesus Came
2009: I Am the Bread of Life
2006: Not Despair, but Repair
2000: How to Receive Communion

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http://vultuschristi.org/index.php/2014/08/pope-benedict-xvi-quotes-saint-teresa-benedicta/ The Lord is present in the tabernacle in His divinity and His humanity. He is not there for Himself, but for us: for it is His joy to be with us. He knows that we, being as we are, need to have Him personally near. As a result, anyone with normal thoughts and feelings will naturally be drawn to spend time with Him, whenever possible and as much as possible. (Gesammelte Werke VII, 136ff.)