Message: I pray that your freedom will be a springboard and not become an inclined plane.
We have arrived at the fifth and final homily in our series: Jesus the Bread of Life. We now have seen four dimensions of the Eucharist: Food, Faith, Forgiveness and Fission. Remember, Pope Benedict used the concept of nuclear fission to help young people understand the Eucharist: humble on the exterior, but inside - dynamic, powerful, awesome.
Today we see the fifth dimension. Like the first four, it begins with the letter "f". It is a word central to the Bible: freedom! Freedom means the power to decide, to make a choice.
We just heard Joshua tell the Israelites, "Decide today whom you will serve." St. Paul tells husbands they have to make a decision: Are you going to love your wife? He's not speaking so much about an emotional, romantic love. That kind of loves comes and goes. No, St. Paul tells husbands to love their wives like Christ loves the Church - to last drop of his blood.* In the Gospel Jesus confronts us with greatest choice of all, "Do you also want to leave me?" In moment I will tell you what that choice involves, but first let's talk about freedom itself.
God has given us freedom - a great gift, but also a bit scary. Pope Benedict said, "Freedom, we can say, is a springboard from which to dive into the infinite sea of divine goodness, but it can also become a tilted plane on which to slide towards the abyss of sin and evil." He spoke these words to a group whose freedom was severely restricted: the boys and girls of Rome's prison for minors. No matter how limited you feel, God has given the gift of freedom. You can use it as springboard or it can become a titled plane to slide into the abyss. Decide today.
In addressing his disciples Jesus makes it clear that the decision comes down to something very concrete: The Eucharist itself. These past weeks we have been hearing Jesus say, "I am the Bread of Life, whoever comes to me will never hunger...The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world...Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you...my flesh is true food and my blood true drink."
When we took the Disciple Makers Index 82% of you "strongly agree" that the "Eucharist really is the body and blood of Jesus." Thank God for your faith. As we have learned, faith is a gift. "No one can come to me," says Jesus, "unless the Father draw him." You have the gift of faith in Jesus - his true presence in the Eucharist. Praise God, but now you have to make a choice. Are you going to live that faith? Will we worship Jesus when the priest lifts his Body and Blood? Will you will approach Communion with reverence? Will you spend time before Jesus, truly present in the Blessed Sacrament? Our Saturday evening and Sunday morning Adoration got off to a good start, but people have been falling away. I do not judge anyone, but ask you to hear this question. Really, the question: "Do you also want to leave me?"
As you think about that question, I would like conclude this series with an image from Pope Benedict. Have you noticed, by the way, that I have been quoting Pope Benedict a lot? For this series I received great help from his book: Heart of the Christian Life Thoughts on the Holy Mass. I recommend it to you. Anyway, he compares the Corpus Christi procession to Mary on the road to her kinswoman Elizabeth. Mary carries Jesus inside her just as we carry Jesus in the monstrance. The image appeals to me because for me one of the most beautiful sights is a young mother with her child inside her.**
I realize she makes a choice about accepting her child. As does the dad. You and I perhaps do not face so dramatic a choice as the life of an unborn child. Still, the words of Joshua apply, "Decide today whom you will serve." And above all, Jesus' question: "Do you also want to leave me?" You do have a choice. I pray that your freedom will be a springboard and not become an inclined plane.
Now, I know what some of you are thinking: Father Bloom, the choice is not always so clear. Well, I want to help you. Next week I begin a new series on Discernment of the spirits. I am looking forward to it. I hope you will too. For this series I will draw from some of the insights of Pope Francis - what he says about discerning between the good spirits and the evil spirits.
That's for next week. Today let's recall those five dimensions of the Eucharist: food, faith, forgiveness, fission and freedom. And we have the image of Mary with Jesus inside her. She can help us realize the true potential of our freedom. She can help us say: "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of everlasting life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God." Amen.
*Former Seattle Mariner Mike Sweeney says, "Ephesians 5 gives us men the greatest challenge when St. Paul writes that 'Men are to love their wives like Christ loves the Church.' It is a challenge but a great compass setting." (from Fit For Heaven by Trent Beattie)
**The bishops have given us a lovely prayer to bless an unborn child. For years I have tried to bless every one I see. My heart aches for moms whose baby comes as a burden. And in that case I wonder about the dad. Did he ever say, "I want to love you as Christ loves the church?"
We have not completed the plan for the summer months:
From Archives (21st Ordinary Sunday - Year B):
Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
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
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru
KRA's and SMART Goals (updated August 14, 2015)