02/04/2018 - "BEHOLD, I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS EVEN UNTO THE END OF THE AGE!" - Matthew 28:20
“BEHOLD, I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS EVEN UNTO THE END OF THE AGE!” - Matthew 28:20
These powerful and consoling words of Jesus, from the Gospel of Matthew, express both a promise and a desire of Jesus. He promises you that He will be with you always and at the same time, He is revealing His desire to be with you always, throughout all the moments of your life. I want to share with you an image of all the fruits that will be born in your life through a faith-filled participation and reception of the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist. The image comes from my own experience of family life. I was so blessed to be raised by a mom and dad that were present, nurturing, affirming, and encouraging. Yes, they also disciplined us and taught us manners too! But the experience of being loved and nurtured by parents who are present roots one in his identity: I am loved! I am not alone. I often told my mom before she passed over to heaven and I still tell my dad to this day how easy it was for me to believe that God is love and that He loves me because of the way that they loved me.
VICKS VAPOR RUB AND THE FULLNESS OF LOVE!
I actually looked forward to getting sick. The special attention that mom would shower upon you was worth the battle with a cough, fever, or headache. I especially looked forward to the rub down with the Vicks Vapor Rub. It was amazing to be in mom’s presence, to experience the attention she gave to you, the softness and gentleness of her touch as she massaged the Vicks into your chest and on your back. And, I always looked forward to that little bit of Vicks that she would put under my nose so that I could breathe better!
This is what I want to draw from that experience: it was an experience of the fullness of love because there were both words and actions together from my mom. When we experience the fullness of love, there is a beautiful wholeness and integrity to the experience. Now, here’s some really good news! It is precisely through His presence and touch in the Seven Sacraments that Jesus communicates His Divine and Eternal life and love to us! Through the Sacramental life of the Church the Lord establishes us as His Family and He nurtures, affirms, heals, and encourages us throughout our entire life. Your faith-filled reception of the Sacraments will bring about a rock solid conviction in your heart: I am loved! I am not alone! My Father has a plan for my life! In other words, it is through the Sacraments that we experience the fullness of the love of Jesus: His words and actions bring about an encounter with Him where we experience His presence and touch.
I WANT TO HELP YOU RECOGNIZE AND BELIEVE IN THE REAL PRESENCE OF JESUS IN THE EUCHARIST!
Deacon Charlie’s insight, about our reception of the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, offer us a great help towards recognizing the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. When you received Baptism and Confirmation, you received two extraordinary gifts from God. He chose you and claimed you as His beloved son or daughter. He gave you an extraordinary power to recognize His presence, to hear the sweetness of His voice no matter where you are, no matter what situation you find yourself in. Through Baptism and Confirmation, you have the power within you to recognize and believe in the REAL PRESENCE OF JESUS IN THE BLESSED SACRAMENT!
HOLY MOTHER CHURCH in her catechism gives us an awesome tool to open ourselves up more and more to encountering JESUS in the Sacraments and to experience the fruits of that encounter in our life. SACRAMENTS ARE - OF JESUS, OF THE CHURCH, OF FAITH, OF SALVATION AND ETERNAL LIFE
THE EUCHARIST IS OF JESUS - LISTEN TO JESUS
We begin by drawing near to our Savior and by listening to Him as He delivers the Bread of Life Discourse which is found in the Holy Gospel according to Saint John, Chapter 6:25-71. Jesus begins by telling us that He is the Bread of Life and that whoever comes to Him shall not hunger and whoever believes in Him shall never thirst. He is revealing that He is the only person on earth that can satisfy all the desires of your heart. Jesus continues the discourse by becoming more specific. He tells us that He is the living bread which came down from heaven and that if any one eats of this bread, he will live forever and that the bread which He will give for the life of the world is His flesh. So, we hear this, but our faith is still growing and developing: what does Jesus mean by this? Well, He continues to become even more specific as He states with much passion and love: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat of the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; 54he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
NOW LET’S PAY ATTENTION TO THE LORD’S ACTIONS
After having listened to the words of Jesus about the Eucharist, now let’s pay attention to His actions so that we may discover the fullness of love. On Holy Thursday, during the Last Supper, we witness Jesus take our bread and our wine and say: take this and eat, take this and drink, this is my Body, this is my Blood and then He gives them to us. Awesome! But we still wonder how this is going to happen. Then on Good Friday, we actually witness Jesus offer His Body and Blood to the Father on the Cross so that our sins may be forgiven. But, now, Jesus is dead! Then, Easter Sunday, Jesus tramples upon death! He rises from the dead! He’s alive and He breaks into our life. We experience a mixture of joy and disbelief. He responds: it’s me! Touch me and see that I am not a ghost! Give me something to eat! Also, on Easter Sunday, the way Jesus chose to reveal Himself to the two disciples on the way to Emmaus was through the breaking of the bread. We now have the fullness of love! Jesus’ words in the Bread of Life discourse and all of His actions in the Holy Triduum are a glorious unity: He has chosen to communicate His Divine and Eternal Life and Love to us through our faith-filled reception of the Sacrament of His Body and Blood! Please listen to my homily podcast on our parish website: www.saintlouisedm.org to hear how the Eucharist is of the Church, of Faith, and of Salvation and Eternal life! We started with a beautiful promise and desire of Jesus: Behold, I am with you always even unto the end of the age! We have seen through His Words and Actions that it is precisely through the Eucharist that He fulfills this promise and desire in a unique and extraordinary way. Let’s conclude by asking the question: why? Why did Jesus chose to be with us always in the Most Blessed Sacrament?
In his Summa Theologica, St. Thomas Aquinas reveals the answer. Jesus chose to remain in the Blessed Sacrament on account of friendship! Thomas explains that it is the nature of friendship that friends live together and share one another’s lives! Jesus has chosen to save you through friendship, through being present in your life and sharing your life. Please respond with faith to the offer of friendship that Jesus offers you through the Eucharist. If you do not yet believe, ask Him and tell Him to give you the gift of faith. Tell Him of your desire and your need to believe and experience the warmth of His love and presence in the Eucharist. For those who do believe in His Real Presence in the Eucharist, let us continue to allow Him more and more to both reveal Himself and be our Savior. Whatever we bring with us to Holy Mass, let us place it in His mighty Hands and allow Him to break our chains, heal our wounds, and set our hearts aflame with His love!
Our Adoration Chapel is weeks away from being ready! Let us already take to prayer what our commitment is going to be! Pray for each other.