20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading I Proverbs 9:1-6
Reading II Ephesians 5:15-20
Gospel John 6:51-58
Several weekends now we have been listening to the Sixth Chapter of the Gospel of John, and it is the center of John’s gospel when he talks about the bread of life. What he is really trying to get across to us in this chapter is that Jesus is the Son of God and he invites us to understand it through the experience of food and drink. You and I know if we are hungry and if we have something to eat and drink, we feel energized and we are ready to go. It’s been that way forever. So Jesus uses that example and says to us, “If you have me in your life you will always be filled. You will never have to worry. I will be the energy of your life. I will set the direction of your life and, without even realizing it, you are going to walk in my path.”
He also says, “Sometimes you may forget to eat and drink.”
You and I know what that is like. If we don’t eat at a certain time, we begin to get hungry and start snacking, and before we know it, we are drinking soda and going for anything in sight. But if we eat three meals a day, then we are satisfied and the energy is always there. Jesus says, “I want you to know that when I give my life to you in the Eucharist, it is sufficient. But you have to want it.”
This morning I would like us to think about the example we set for each other — because when the body and blood of Jesus enters into our lives, then you and I become a community. And if we are in the community we have the right to expect from one another what is good for us. We also expect the gift that someone may come to us and say, “I don’t think this is doing you much good, you might think about it.” When we do that, everybody’s life changes because we are striving to let the whole world experience Jesus living in us. We do that as parents and teachers.
Today we honor our faculty and students. Sometimes what we say to one another becomes very important. This past week I was sitting in my office while Father Adam was celebrating Mass, and when the kids came through, one of the girls came to me and said, “You’re supposed to be over there.”
Wow. She knew where I was supposed to be.
“What are you doing at your desk? You’re supposed to be over there in church.” This is just a small but important example of the simple little things that a person can pick up on that can become important in that person’s life.
When we look at our lives we can see that probably the greatest challenge we have is how we are as parents in our homes. You can’t be perfect twenty-four seven. However, your kids pick up your habits, good and bad — whatever they might be.
The good habits are when your children hear you say, “I love you.” Chances are twenty years later they will be saying that to their own children. If we don’t pay attention to the good habits, then problems can occur.
I remember a young girl who came to see me. Both her parents were alcoholics. They were good people but drank too much. The girl said, “Alcohol is around everywhere and all the time. So I thought, well, if that’s the way life is, I’ll do it.”
So she started to drink. She said, “There is always gin. So I started gin in the morning and continued throughout the day. Mom and Dad do this so maybe it’s something good for me — so I started taking a drink— just like they do.”
Then she added, “Father, it’s not good for me. I know it isn’t. But I don’t know what to do.”
And I said, “Your parents love you but you have to realize that, in this instance, the example they are setting for you is not good. I really don’t think they want you to drink, or realize the harm they are doing you. So what maybe you need to do, in a nice way, is for you to invite someone in the family to say to them, ‘I think you’re drinking too much.’ But you do not have to join them. What you need to realize is what is good for yourself.”
This kind of thing goes on twenty-four seven in many homes. We all try and do our best, and we do. But there are times when we do not realize that the bread of life, and the cup of blessing — are in me — but I am not letting it affect and guide me in my life.
So when you and I come up for Eucharist in a few minutes, and we receive the body and blood of Jesus, and Jesus says, “This is my body, this is my flesh” — without it you and I can’t live. You and I can’t live without blood. So as Christians we cannot live without God being in our lives.
Jesus keeps telling us throughout the whole Gospel, “That’s why I washed your feet. That’s why I keep telling you, I Am. I’m not here for the month of August, I’m here 365 days throughout the entire year. I want you to feel my presence in your life.”
And then you and I have to transform that — at school, at work, wherever we are. We have to let others know that this is what drives me: “I know what it means to receive Eucharist, and I know what it means to be bread for someone else.”
So if you and I have this in our life on a regular basis, and we are invited to a life of prayer — then we are not going after the snacks. We are not going after the things that won’t help us. Then you might say, “I don’t need to go to my computer and watch pornography for a hour and a half. Maybe I can go do something for my neighbor instead. Maybe I can find time to be with one of my children.”
And God will say, “You got the message.”
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Monsignor Michael Kuse is pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Quincy, Illinois.
(TASCAM DR 40 file 0009)