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Holy Hour Homily – Eucharist & Thanksgiving

Homily for November 2017 Holy Hour – Year of the Eucharist
Deuteronomy 26:1-11
Psalm 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-16, 17, 25
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Matthew 15:32-39

We come tonight for our monthly hour.  The timing of starting our holy hours comes from our Year of the Eucharist but our turnout has been good and so I hope to continue these hours indefinitely.

So, we come tonight with the Eucharist in Mind, the Eucharist that is Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament on our altar even as I speak.  That is our focus.

However, I also have our national holiday of Thanksgiving in mind.  We will celebrate it one week from tomorrow.  It is a secular holiday but it is a holiday that fits very nicely with our faith.  In fact, do you know that the word “Eucharist” comes from a Greek word meaning “Thanksgiving”?

We are to live with an attitude of gratitude for all that God has given us.  We will end tonight with a song familiar to many, “Now Thank We All Our God.”

In that song, we give thanks “with heart, and hands, and voices.”  These words reminded me of Jesus’ words a couple of Sundays ago when he said, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.

We are to give thanks to God for the “wondrous things” he has done for us.  God “has blessed us on our way with countless gifts of love.”  Thinking of the line “countless gifts” I firmly believe that God gives numerous gifts throughout our lives that we never see let alone the ones we do see.

The greatest gift that God gives us that we can “see” but often is not fully appreciated is the Eucharist.  In the Eucharist, we receive Jesus and as we celebrate Mass, we celebrate the sacrifice of Jesus giving his life for us on the Cross.

How do we show our appreciation, our gratitude?

One way is what is reflected in our first reading from Deuteronomy.  These are the words of Moses to the Israelites as they are about to enter the land given to them by God.  Moses speaks of the harvest they will receive and the first fruits they are to give.

If we are to be thankful for what God gives us the word “first” in “first fruits” is very important.  God gives us the greatest gift ever.  We need to respond with gratitude.  Our response also needs to be at the top of our list.  We are not to give of what we have leftover but to give to God first.

This does not mean we give more than we have.  God just needs to be at the top of the list of our priorities.  For giving to God is not a simple matter of giving things.  Should we give financially to the church?  Absolutely.  We need your financial support but what is the most important giving to God is the giving of our heart and soul.

This leads to our psalm today, which is the psalm that we use on Good Friday.  “Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit.”

Even Jesus, who is consubstantial with the Father, gave thanks.  We see it in the feeding of the multitude in the gospel.  Jesus “took the seven loaves and the fish, gave thanks” and the crowd was satisfied.  In fact, there was more leftover than they started with.

Are we thankful for the physical food God gives us?  It takes less than a minute to say a simple grace before our meal but to do so is pleasing to God and it helps us recognize and appreciate what God has done for us.

As Paul reminds us of what Jesus did at the Last Supper, when Jesus instituted the Eucharist he “gave thanks.”  Our second reading ends with the words, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.

Every time we celebrate the Eucharist, we are “proclaiming” Jesus’ death on the Cross for us.  I see our regular attendance at holy hours as “proclaiming” our belief in the Real Presence.  We must proclaim the “Real Presence” to the world, not just during our Year of the Eucharist but always.

Paul wrote, “For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you.”  In this particular passage, Paul is speaking about the Eucharist.  Where might we be in faith in the Real Presence was not handed on to us?  Where will the future end up if we do not hand on the faith to others?

We show our gratitude for the gift of the Eucharist by coming for Mass often and by coming to our holy hours.  In coming, we say we believe it is Jesus.  The next best way to show our gratitude and appreciation for what God has given us is to share it with others.  To put our faith into action.

So, as we enter into our quiet time ask yourselves these questions:

  1. What does the Eucharist mean to you?
  2. How do you show gratitude/appreciation for the gift of the Eucharist?
  3. Who has shared the faith with you? Have you thanked them?
  4. Who have you shared the faith with?

 

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