Eighteen Sunday in Ordinary Time

There is a great and beautiful story about the three businessmen who ran through a train station knowing that they only had two or three minutes before their train would depart. In the process they accidentally tipped over an apple stand. They kept running, but then one of the men felt a twinge of conscience and turned around and ran back to the stand. The apples were all over the place and a child was crying. The man started picking up the apples. He then realized that the crying child was a little boy who had been selling the apples. The little boy was blind. The man put the apples he could save back on the table. He then said to the little boy, “I’m so sorry. I’m placing a ten dollar bill in your hand to make up for the apples that had been lost. The little boy held the money and asked, “Are you Jesus?” The man was for the little boy. And the little boy was for the man[1].

My brother, my sister, we need encounters with Jesus, and as a Catholics and members of His Church we have to provide encounters with Him to all those around us. We have to be facilitators.

However if we want to lead to our friends and family to the Lord, we have to have a great spirituality. What is the food that we need? Simple: the food is Jesus Christ. The Eucharist is the sacramental expression of this food. The Eucharist is our union with the Lord.

In today’s Gospel, the people who seek Jesus looking for free food, take a step away from their greed and begin considering their religion. They speak about the manna that the ancient Hebrews ate in the desert. As we just heard the first reading tells the story about the Jews crying out to God for food. Jesus responds that He is the gift that is greater than the Law. He is the new manna, the food that gives eternal life. He is the Bread of Life.
I am not American; however I feel this country as my home, so in this country we understand the importance of food both as nourishment and as part of our social lives. We get concerned when we hear a report that our food might be contaminated by chemicals, and we are careful of what we eat and how we prepare it. We go to great lengths to make sure that the food we take into our bodies is healthy and that it provides us appropriate nourishment.

It should not be difficult then for us to understand the importance of the Eucharist in our life and in the life of the church! It makes sense that Jesus would start the discourse on the Eucharist by feeding the large crowd following him. In his love and care for them, he wanted them to be fed.

My brother, my sister it is in the Eucharist that we find nourishment for our souls and the possibility for spiritual growth and a healthy spiritual life.

Pope John Paul II gave us an extraordinary example of love and devotion to the Eucharist. Several years ago he said: “The most important and beautiful thing for me remains the fact that I have been a priest for more than 50 years, because every day I can celebrate holy Mass! The Eucharist is the secret of my day. It gives strength and meaning to all my activities of service to the church and to the world.”

The church in our country will be what our Eucharistic devotion is[2].
With this in mind, let us ask our Blessed Mother to help us increase our “hunger” for Jesus. As a pastor of this parochial community I hope we can all receive the nourishment we need for our souls, and increase our spirituality, and become the most Eucharistic parish in the Archdiocese so that with our faith renewed, we can become better “witnesses of hope” to our society, our city and our country[3]

[1] 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Cycly B. Readings: Exod 16:2-4, 12-15 Ps 78:3-4, 23-24, 25+54 Eph 4:17, 20-24 Matt 4:4b John 6:24-35
[2] Does anyone doubt that America needs to be converted? When the Holy Father spoke to the youth in Washington last year, his urgent topic was to pray that America might not lose its soul. The soul of America is Christianity. Christianity is the principle of our national life. As our nation becomes increasingly de-Christianized, it loses more and more of its source of vitality. Unless the moral disease is cured, America as the nation we still calls the United States will disappear. But there is another, and deeper, meaning to America’s danger of losing its soul. Individuals lose their souls when they die estranged from God. There is such a thing as a second death which means everlasting separation from God in what Christ calls eternal punishment. This is the awful prospect awaiting not just single persons but whole societies, unless they repent and return to the God from whom they have strayed by their stubborn resistance to His will.
[3] Cfr Today’s Catholic, Column by Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, The Eucharist: Nourishment for our souls and lives, July 17, 2005.

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris