August 02, 2015 - 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church
The world is full of grumblers – armchair quarterbacks whose lives are filled with would-ofs, could-ofs, and should-ofs.
Some people are never satisfied, and they let everyone else know about it – always complaining about something.
That's nothing new, the Israelites grumbled in the desert. They grumbled because they were hungry. They were starving in the desert.
God, of course, provided for them – quail and manna. The quail and manna filled their bellies, but it did not satisfy them.
They remained grumblers. They remained unsatisfied because they never came to the realization that what they hungered for was spiritual nourishment.
The people in the gospel are also grumblers. Last week we read that Jesus miraculously fed the crowd of thousands with five loaves and two fish.
This same crowd came back the next day. Was it with eager hearts longing for spiritual nourishment? Or did they return with eager stomachs?
What were they longing for? More bread and more fish? Were they seeking out Jesus because they wanted another free meal?
Listen to what Jesus said, "What you are looking for will not satisfy your longing. You are looking for a free meal, but I am offering you spiritual nourishment. Take me as your bread of life."
If we take Jesus as our bread of Life, we choose what is good for the world, we choose what is good for us, and our spiritual longing is satisfied.
If you have come here today because you are spiritually hungry, then you have come to the right place.
Jesus continues to come down from heaven as the bread of Life to nourish our spiritual lives.
We Catholic Christians refer to this in different ways:
The Eucharist: Jesus' real presence under the appearances of bread and wine – the center of the life of the church, our source and summit, the most important thing we do each week
Holy Communion: the sharing together of Jesus Christ by receiving his body and blood during Mass.
The real presence: with the conclusion of the Eucharistic prayer Jesus is present, body and blood, soul and divinity, under the appearances of bread and wine.
If we search our hearts, what do we really believe about the Eucharist?
Do we believe that the Eucharist is merely a memorial service –
do this in memory of me?
Do we believe that receiving Holy Communion it is merely a symbolic meal shared by Jesus' followers?
Or do we believe in Jesus' real presence, body and blood, soul and divinity, come down from heaven to be shared among those of us who believe – God truly present among us.
We Catholic Christians believe that Jesus is really, truly present in the bread and wine, given to us for our spiritual nourishment.
When the priest prays the Eucharistic prayer and the people respond Amen, the bread and wine are transformed, transubstantiated, into the body and blood of Jesus Christ –
the bread come down from heaven,
the bread of angels, the bread of life,
the only bread that can satisfy our spiritual hunger.
Do we sing “Amen” with conviction at the conclusion of the Eucharistic Prayer? Do we show our belief in the real presence with respect and reverence?
Respect and reverence for Jesus present in our midst cannot be merely cosmetic. A genuflection before receiving communion or before and after mass does not suffice. Respect and reverence must sink into our hearts, calling is to conversion, calling us from sin to new life.
Respect and reverence calls us our of our selfishness and into the life of this community of faith. Respect and reverence must move us beyond our grumblings, so that we can gather around this table to share the Lord’s supper, filled with joy.
God's presence in bread goes all the back to Moses in the desert.
God's presence in bread continues today in the Eucharist that we celebrate.
We can deny ourselves many things, but when we deny ourselves the Bread of Life necessary for our spiritual nourishment
we are destined to be merely grumblers.
And the world is already full of grumblers.