Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Have you noticed the latest sales idea in supermarkets? Throughout the store, HEB for example, they offer you tasty bites of all kinds of foods and wines. Sometimes they cook hot food to appeal to all our senses by making the whole place smell fantastic. And it works! Because you can read about the food on the label, but an actual taste is the only way to have the true experience of the food. They hope that after you taste it, your hunger will be awakened, and you will want more[1].

Well, today the responsorial Psalm urges us in similar language, Taste and see the goodness of the Lord. God has issued a universal invitation to come closer to the Divine Mystery through Jesus—first, to taste, to begin to become conscious, and then to find yourself falling more deeply in love with Love.

Of course, we study the Bible, and can read hundreds of other books to learn about Jesus. But it is not enough simply to read about Jesus’ miracles, and to marvel at his goodness and mercy. Jesus himself wants us to taste true awareness of him. He wants our hunger for God to be constantly awakened. So he says, whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life….For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink[2].

St. Augustine expressed the mystery of the Eucharist in a beautiful phrase: Receive who you are; become what you receive [3]. What does this mean? As Christians, we have already been baptized into the Body and Blood of Jesus, so when we take the host, we are receiving the very One of whom we are already a part.

But in taking the Eucharist, we are not merely chewing and swallowing food: we are making a commitment and a pledge to live and act as Jesus did. This is more shocking and risky than it sounds. It means we dare not go to Communion unless we are ready to take on more and more of the consciousness of Jesus himself.

Do you know the saying, “You are what you eat”? If we want to take Jesus into our bodies, we are saying we want to “become what we receive.” And if we are literally becoming the Body of Christ together through Communion, then how can our everyday actions not change?

Taste and SEE…After tasting the love of Jesus, our vision changes. As we begin to see as Jesus does, we may ask, “What are the priorities of Jesus?” These will become our priorities. As our vision improves, we as a parish and as individuals may spend our money, our time, and our gifts differently. Jesus changes us—and we change the world.

No, the bread and wine are not just symbols, because God’s very life is a communion with others in real time, The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life. So when we receive Jesus, it is not intended to be merely a “God and me” moment[4].

Jesus’ Body and Blood are about eternal life. Do not be afraid of any doubts you may have about these mysteries. As we take Jesus in Communion, we can finally let go of our fears of the future, our lack of faith. This way of knowing God is the real beginning of eternal life, now.

How can we live our lives more conscious of the fact that eternal life starts NOW? Well, knowing we are already in the real presence, and can bring it to the world, can be our joy. My brother, my sister, just let yourself taste and see the love of God… this is enough.

Today, when we received the Holy Communion we can repeat one part of the most beautiful part of a hymn composed more than tenth centuries ago,

Do not see the wounds as Thomas did [Lord]
But I confess that you are my God.
Make me believe more and more in you,
Hope in you, and love you
[5]. Amen ■

[1] Sunday 16th August, 2009, 20TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME. Proverbs 9:1-6. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord—Ps 33(34):2-3, 10-15. Ephesians 5:15‑20. John 6:51-58. [St Stephen of Hungary]
[2] John 6:54
[4] Instead, “the sacrifice of Christ becomes also the sacrifice of the members of his Body. The lives of the faithful, their praise, sufferings, prayer, and work are united with those of Christ…and so acquire a new value….” (Catechism of the Cath. Ch., Sec. 1368) What about those who have never heard Christ’s words, or who feel alienated from the church? When one of us shares their suffering, simply by offering some patient and respectful listening, by crying with them, by offering words of comfort, we become more at one with that person. There is the “real presence” of Jesus. This is what our eating Christ’s body means--that we share the suffering of the wounded, that we share “spiritual communion” with all we meet. Keep awake to the fact that no one is asked to be responsible for the results—we are only called to be faithful in our presence to the suffering.
[5] Adoro te devote is a Eucharistic hymn traditionally attributed to Saint Thomas Aquinas.
Ilustration: Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velázquez, Old Woman Frying Eggs (1618), Oil on canvas (101 x 120 cm), National Gallery of Scotland (Edinburgh).

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