20th Sun [B] 2006

Fr. Charles Irvin

Proverbs 9:1-6; Ephesians 5:15-20; John 6-51-58

Reading the passages of the Bible gives us descriptive words about Jesus, many differing descriptive words. He is addressed as Lord. His disciples often called Him Master. Some who came to Him for healing called Him Son of David. Sometimes they called Him teacher. He Him self spoke of Him self as a shepherd. At other times He referred to Him self as Son of God.

We need to note that all of these denote our relationships with Him – our external relationships with Him. These different roles of Jesus present God’s will for us. He is our master, like the captain of a ship is sometimes called the master. He is Lord, the one we are called to obey. As shepherd, we need to hear His voice and follow where He leads us.

As Son of David we see Him as the descendent of King David from whose lineage, as the prophets taught, was to come the Jewish Messiah. As Son of God He came to call all people, Jew and non-Jew alike, to come with Him back to God the Father who sent Him.

But all of these things deal with roles in relationships. God sent His Christ to us to bring us something deeper. We see hints of it when in the New Testament we find concepts that point to our being in Christ. That word “being” is more than simply being side by side next to Him… it means existing in Christ. And there’s more yet – the New Testament speaks of Christ living in us. In his Letter to the Galatians, St. Paul speaks of no longer living in his own self but living in Christ with Christ living in him.

What we are talking about here is the fact that God’s love for us is so overwhelming that He wants our personalities to blend together, yours with Christ’s, Christ’s with yours. And not only that, but more! He wants to live in you and you live to live in Him – He wants us to become one with each other in an intimacy far beyond any human intimacy that we can imagine or experience.

This brings us to the Gospel of St. John, particularly the sixth chapter of St. John’s Gospel. Here we find Jesus Christ not in any external role like teacher, leader, master, or savior. Here we find Jesus as one who loves us so much that He wants to live in us and wants us to live in Him.

How can this be, we ask? The vehicle in which this happens is food.

You’ve all heard the expression: “You are what you eat.” If you eat fat food you will be fat. If you eat junk food you will be malnourished. If you eat a lot of carbohydrates and little protein you will have a flabby body instead of a muscular body.

You are what you eat also applies to the point St. John is making in his Gospel when we hear him quoting Jesus:

    “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”
     The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?”

Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.

     Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.” (John 6:51-58)

This is totally unique and we should see it as unique. It is often said that it doesn’t make any difference what religion you have, we’re all going to get to heaven anyway. That’s a nice thought but Jesus never said that.

Some churches teach tell us that God sent His Son to us in order to tell us that God loves us, and then they stop there. Other churches tell us that God sent His Son to us in order to tell us that God loves us to teach us how to obey God’s will, and they stop there. The Catholic Church takes us into the depths of the sixth chapter of St. John’s Gospel. The core of Catholicism is found in that sixth chapter.

No other religious figure in all of human history ever gave us what Jesus gave us in the Eucharist. No one speaks of our living in Buddha and Buddha living in us. No one speaks of the Prophet Mohammed living in us and our living in Mohammed. It is only in Christ Jesus that we find such a complete gift of God giving Himself to us and calling us to give ourselves completely over into Him.

People often ask us to explain to them our understanding of Holy Communion. Of course, whenever we are asked we cannot fully explain it. Why? Because it is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved. You might as well try to explain what love is. All you can do is describe it; you can never explain it.

Love has its reasons that are unknown to the mind. We can do all sorts of religious things, engage in all sorts of religious activities, and preach all we want about Jesus. But these are all things that are about Him. When it comes to the core of our worship and our love of God all we can do is come to the Lord’s banquet table with our hopes, dreams, fears, and wants and there simply let Him give Himself to us. It’s not a question of what we do; it’s rather a matter of what God is doing.

Nor would it be polite for us to demand that He explain it to us.

About Charles Irvin

Fr. Charlie was ordained a priest June 3, 1967 and has served as pastor of St. Mary Student Chapel in Ann Arbor, founded Holy Spirit parish in Hamburg, MI, served as pastor of St. Francis of Assisi parish in Ann Arbor and was pastor of St. Mary parish in Manchester, MI when he entered Senior Priest status in 2001. In 1999 he was appointed Founding Editor of FAITH Magazine which has grown into Faith Catholic Publishing located in Lansing, MI. He is now very active in his “retirement.”