HOMILY FOR THE NINETEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR B
SUNDAY HOMILY THEME: CHRIST IS THE LIVING BREAD OF LIFE!
The readings of this Sunday provide us another opportunity to continue our reflection on the gift of the Holy Eucharist, the mystery of our faith and the life of the world. The good news today, is that Christ draws us to himself every day through the Eucharistic in order to nourish and strengthen us for our journey. God continues to draw us to himself in order to save, feed and strengthen us on our journey.
From the beginning of time people have dreamed about never dying or if you like eternal life. With each death of a loved one, that dream became more and more of an obsession with people. And so when Jesus showed up in Palestine and began talking about eternal life people flocked to hear what he had to say. Jews especially, were interested. Since the time of Abraham and Moses, they were in the dark about what happened to the dead. They believe there was a “world of the dead”- Sheol, but they had no idea what that world was like. And so, any light Jesus could throw on the mystery was welcome.
Jesus said he came to give us life to the full which is life in its’ entirety – eternal life. In his speeches, he gave three most important conditions to share in this life eternal
i. To believe in Jesus Christ.
ii. To be born of water and spirit.
iii. Whoever eats the body of the son of man and drinks his blood.
To believe, is to follow the teachings of Christ and to be baptized means to be initiated into the fold of those who accept the teachings of Christ. Why then do we need the Eucharist?
i. The Eucharist strikes a balance in this new life teachings we have accepted
i. The bread(food) from above and sustains us in our spiritual journey
ii. Makes us like Christ because we become what we eat.
Against this backdrop, St. Paul insists that we need to seriously “recognise” the Body of Christ: “Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and the blood of the Lord… For anyone who eats and drinks without recognising the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself (1 Cor 11:27, 29). So, when we come forward to receive Communion, we should prepare our minds and our hearts. It is not any ordinary food in front of us. We form a line as in procession to meet the Lord. We keep our hands joined together and out of the pockets, make some reverence. Unfortunately, we see the contrary today.
My brothers and sisters, the Eucharist is a very sacred celebration, more than we can ever imagine. Perhaps, owing to the simplicity and ordinariness of the entire celebration, many have fallen into the temptation of not giving enough reverence and honour to this infinitely august sacrament. We see this all the time: people coming very late into the celebration; people texting even during the solemn consecration; ladies dressed indecently and provocatively; and many others just cannot stop talking to one another during the Mass. These do not just express our lack of reverence for the sacredness of the celebration, but they also distract other people and hinder them from giving God a meaningful worship.
Finally, let us take advantage of this generous gift that God had given us through the Holy Eucharist in order to enrich our lives. We must do what the psalmist tells us today: “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” He is really the living bread of life. He is the Mystery of our faith and the life of the world.
God bless you!
Fr Augustine Ikechukwu Opara