My Sisters and Brothers!
The sixth chapter of the Gospel of St John which has been proclaimed in our Churches for a few weeks now reminds us of consuming Jesus’ Body and Blood so that we could have eternal life. The eternal life Jesus speaks of is not limited to the life after death but it is the life where God reigns. It is the life where God reigns in our thoughts, decisions, plans, actions etc, as St Paul wrote in our second reading from the Letter to the Ephesians: “Try, then, to imitate God as children of his that he loves and follow Christ loving as he loved you, giving himself up in our place as a fragrant offering and a sacrifice to God.” However Jesus is realistic and he knows that our society doesn’t help us to believe, to be faithful to God, like those hot days don’t help us to do our daily duties either. That’s why Jesus has given us bread from heaven, his Body and Blood.
Let’s go back to our First Reading about Elijah: “O Lord – he said – I have had enough. Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” What can we learn about Elijah from these words? He is disappointed and discouraged. He has lost interest in life. Isn’t our experience similar? In order to collect ourselves and return to our daily responsibilities we are given, through the hands of our priests, Jesus’ Body and Blood like the angel gave bread and water to Elijah. When we receive this gift of Jesus’ Body and Blood with faith and trust then even if the heat of our problems and difficulties doesn’t ease like the scourging heat affecting us right now doesn’t want to go away, we still find strength to keep going.
My Friends! 27 years ago in Sri Lanka an Oblate priest was concluding Mass. He had distributed Holy Communion and he had purified the chalice and paten when two shots were fired. Those smashed Fr Michael’s head. The chalice and paten were filled up again, this time with blood of the priest who didn’t have time to bless his congregation.
What triggered the murder? Fr Michael after returning from Paris after obtaining two PhDs requested to be sent to some poor rural area. He preached the Good News but he also taught people to read and write. He explained them that farming methods promoted by big companies were leaving the fields barren. Of course those in power weren’t pleased with Fr Michael’s activity. He was threatened and bullied but he persevered in doing good. Where did his strength come from? From what became his last activity, the Most Holy Eucharist. He celebrated Mass and he adored the Eucharistic Jesus regularly. From Eucharist and adoration he drew strength to be good and merciful, forgiving and loving.
Hopefully soon this heat will ease and TV people will stop telling us to drink water, but the evil in this world is not going to be burnt up because of the heat. In order to face it we will need the heavenly nourishment of Jesus’ Body and Blood, the best nutrition we can find on this planet as it sustains us for life eternal.