Homily for October 2017 – Year of the Eucharist
1 Kings 19:9-13a
Psalm 116:12-13, 15-16bc, 17-18
One of the phrases that Bishop Matano used in his pastoral letter proclaiming our Year of the Eucharist was to describe the Eucharist as “the source and summit of the Christian life.”
The quote as Bishop Matano wrote it comes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 1324. You can find the entire quote on the inside front page of tonight’s program.
We have seven sacraments, all of which are very important ways of receiving God’s grace. Baptism is the first sacrament we receive. In baptism, we become children of God and receive the Holy Spirit.
Baptism is received just once in a lifetime. The Eucharist is to be received over and over to repeatedly give us strength. It is through what we receive in the Eucharist that we receive over and over the grace we need to live as Christian disciples. Thus, the Eucharist is the source of what we do from the strength it gives us. It is the summit as they most important thing we do.
We consume physical food in many different forms but it the Eucharist as the Body and Blood of Jesus that “satisfies the hungers of the human family” (quote from opening prayer, Order for the Solemn Exposition of the Holy Eucharist, paragraph 109).
When we talk about “receiving” the Eucharist, we are generally referring to “eating” the Body of Christ and “drinking” the Blood of Christ as we do at Mass. This is the same way we receive nourishment for our bodies. Eating and drinking is a normal part of human life.
Tonight, we will not receive the Eucharist in the form of eating and drinking but tonight is still about receiving Jesus. Tonight, we receive by what is called “ocular Communion.”
Ocular refers to what is perceived by the eye. We see Jesus in the form of the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance. In placing ourselves before the Blessed Sacrament we allow ourselves, as Paul writes to the Romans, to “be transformed by the renewal of your mind.”
We do this so that we “may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” To aid in this, our holy hour includes readings from the Bible as the Word of God to provide us guidance but this hour also will include quiet time as a way of letting God provide direction in our lives.
Our lives can be filled with many different activities. It can be work or attending events that your children are involved it. Even in retirement people often find themselves busier than they expected in activities ranging from their grandchildren’s lives to church or simply being with friends. When we get busy, sometimes we forget Jesus.
When we forget Jesus, we forget that the gifts that we have been given, our talents, are not giving to us for selfish gain but to be used as a living sacrifice for the building up of God’s kingdom.
Sometimes we feel like the little that we can do doesn’t really make a difference. That’s because we aren’t meant to do it all ourselves. As Paul wrote, we are many parts meant to come together as one body in Christ. It is only in working together that we accomplish what God asks of us.
To do this we need to remain in Jesus because without Jesus we can do nothing. God is the vine grower. Jesus is the vine. We are the branches. We need to be pruned. Sometimes pruning means going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation to have our sins removed. Pruning can also be removing unnecessary parts of our lives that keep us from knowing Jesus. Here you might think of what you gave up to be here tonight. In choosing to be here tonight you gave that up because you knew you needed Jesus.
Our first reading tonight picks up at a point where Elijah is fleeing for his life. By God’s grace he had just defeated the 450 prophets of the false god Baal and people are trying to kill him. He goes to a cave to find shelter.
Hopefully, no one is trying to literally kill us but we do come tonight with our struggles and our fears. We come to find shelter in the Lord.
God chose to come to Elijah in that moment. At Pentecost, God, as the Holy Spirit comes down as a “strong driving wind” (Acts 2:2) but for Elijah was not in the “strong and violent wind.”
At the time of Jesus’ death and resurrection there were earthquakes but at the time for Elijah, God was not in the earthquake.
God appeared to Moses as a burning bush (Exodus 3) but to Elijah God was not in the fire.
For Elijah, God came as a “light silent sound,” a tiny whisper. Now let us spend a few minutes listening to the silence.