Message: Like Matt Talbot all of us experience a thirst, a hunger nothing in this world can satisfy.
Today we celebrate Corpus Christi - the Body and Blood of Jesus. In the first reading Moses says that the Lord allowed us "to be afflicted with hunger" so that we could appreciate the manna - the one bread that would satisfy. The famous theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar (12 August 1905 – 26 June 1988) says it this way:
"When receiving the Eucharist each person must remember that he is falling into the arms of God like someone dying of hunger in the wilderness of this life."
Let's be honest. It's sometimes difficult recognize that we are dying of hunger. We have been blessed with more abundance, more opportunities and more gadgets than any generation in human history. At the same time we experience a very real hunger: a sadness that people want to cover over. But, you know, maybe a person should feel sad if he trying to live by bread alone, not by every word that comes the mouth of God.
We need something more than this world's bread. Jesus says, "unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you." Jesus' words should startle us as they did his original hearers. "I am the living bread come down from heaven," he says, "whoever eats this bread will live forever and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world."
That's what I want to offer you - Jesus the bread of life, the only one who will satisfy your hunger. Here at St. Mary of the Valley we are trying to become a more welcoming parish, to meet the needs of young families, to strengthen our music and to have homilies with a helpful message. All of these things are vital, but we have to keep in mind the teaching of Vatican II: that the Eucharist is the source and summit, the fount and goal of the Christian life. The Eucharist is an end in itself. I am the living bread come down heaven, Jesus says.
In his book, "Journey to the Heart of Jesus," Archbishop Sartain writes about the importance of consistency in attending Mass. He uses the example Matt Talbot who by age 13 became addicted to alcohol. He sunk deeper and deeper until he hit bottom fifteen years later. Desperate, he made a pledge of sobriety on his knees. With the help of a priest, he established a disciplined program of recovery and he remained sober for forty years. His program foreshadowed Alcoholics Anonymous and he helped hundreds discover that they thirsted not for alcohol but for something else - or to put it more accurately for someone else.
Matt Talbot's recovery involved quietly participating in Mass. Mass, private prayer and tending to the needs of others were the pillars of his program. "It is consistency God wants," he is often quoted as saying. Matt Talbot died on June 7, 1925 on his way to Mass. Fifty years later Pope Paul VI declared him Venerable and I believe someday we will say: St. Matt Talbot, pray for us.
Like Matt Talbot all of us experience a thirst, a hunger nothing in this world can satisfy. As we celebrate Corpus Christi, I would like to conclude by again quoting Hans Urs Von Balthasar.
"When receiving the Eucharist each person must remember that he is falling into the arms of God like someone dying of hunger in the wilderness of this life." Amen.
From Archives (Corpus Christi, Year A):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
Take the Plunge Bible Study (audio resources)
Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish.
Fr. Brad's Homilies
Fr. Jim's Homilies
Fr. Michael White's Homilies ("messages")
Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)
Parish Picture Album
(Visit to Peru, May 26 - June 10, 2014)
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru