The Good News for August 23

For the complete Sunday readings click here.

When was the last time you remember being shocked by something Jesus said?

In the Gospel this Sunday we read about the crowd complaining about Jesus’ teaching. We learn than after he stuck by his words, many left. What Jesus said shocked the crowd so much so that they abandoned him. Many gave up on Jesus because of his shocking teaching.

So what did he say?

For the last four Sundays, we have been reading from John 6. In this part of John’s gospel, Jesus teaches that he is the Bread of Life. Jesus explains that unless we eat his flesh and drink his blood we have no life within us. The thing is Jesus isn’t speaking metaphorically or symbolically. Jesus professes that the Eucharist is his body and blood six times within John 6. He really means it when he teaches this.
What happens in this Sunday’s gospel is exactly what you would expect if someone told crowds to eat his flesh and drink his blood – people freaked out.

If we have been paying attention, we should be freaking out too. If we are really paying attention to the gospels these last few weeks we should shocked by what Jesus is teaching. Are you shocked?

Jesus is saying that the Eucharist is truly the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. Jesus preaches that every time we celebrate Mass that host and that wine change, not symbolically or metaphorically, but truly into Jesus’ body and blood.

Some followers of Jesus were shocked and left. But when Jesus turns to the Peter and the disciples and asks if they are leaving too, Peter affirms that they are sticking with Jesus. Peter even goes so far as to say that the disciples are staying with Jesus because he teaches the truth.

For us, if we truly take the time to stop and think about the Eucharist, if we intentionally try to imagine hearing Jesus words for the first time, then our experience of receiving Jesus in the Eucharist has to change. It might even be okay that we are shocked that the God of the universe would be so generous to share his very flesh and blood with us and for us so that we can receive life everlasting.

Live It:
Read John 6 all the way through in one sitting (5 minutes or less). Think about what Jesus is really saying when you go to Mass this weekend.

The Good Word for August 16

For the complete Sunday readings click here.i-hate-selling-things

We had hail damage to our roof this summer. What a pain. Our neighborhood was hit pretty hard so for the next month swarms of roofing companies came through trying to convince us to look at replacing our roof. With every guy that came to my door, I had to make a decision. I had to decide whether I might trust him enough to work on my house. I had to decide whether he was trustworthy and if he worked for a reputable company.

When it comes to our faith, we have to make a decision about Jesus. Are we going to believe Jesus? Do we believe that Jesus is who he says he is? C.S. Lewis, the writer of the Narnia books, says in his book Mere Christianity that there are only three answers to the question about who is Jesus. Lewis says that Jesus is either 1) a lunatic, because he really believes he is God, but isn’t; 2) a liar, because he knows he isn’t God, but keeps telling people he is and thus a very bad man; or 3) God almighty, and is telling us the truth.

So, who is Jesus?

Many people believe that Jesus is just a good guy or a wisdom figure, but not exactly God. But Lewis explains that Jesus can’t be just a good guy, because good guys don’t pretend to be God. He is either crazy, evil, or God.

Which is true?

In the gospel this Sunday, Jesus teaches that he bread of life and his flesh is the life of the whole world. The Jewish crowd responds by grumbling and questioning Jesus’ teaching.

Jesus says “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.”

The crowd that heard Jesus preach had decided that Jesus was a good teacher and maybe a miracle worker, but not the Son of God. The teaching that Jesus could give them his flesh and through that gift save the world was too much for them. Further along in the gospel they leave and stop listening to Jesus. Only the disciples stay. Why? Because they believe that Jesus is God!

So the question is before you, “Who is Jesus?” If Jesus is God and this weekend he is preaching that the Eucharist is his true flesh, then how does that make your Mass experience different? If you believe Jesus, then the Eucharist is the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. If the Eucharist is truly God, then we aren’t just going to Mass for familiar songs and a comforting homily. We are going to Mass to meet and physically consume God Almighty.

Live It:

Make a decision! Think and pray about what you believe about Jesus. Make an intentional decision. Before Sunday, think about how your decision impacts how you go to Mass.