I’m your huckleberry.

Quarreling is our current national pastime. Whether it is politics, covid/stay-at-home orders, race, religion, the environment, sex, parenting, sports, money or whatever – we quarrel about nearly everything. Not only do we like to quarrel, we enjoy watching other people quarrel. A significant portion of cable networks is just video of people quarreling about some topic. We have build vast online frontiers where we can pick a fight at a moments notice.

Somedays I wonder if people want to change the US motto from “In God we trust.” to “Well, actually…” It seems it would be more accurate. In the Gospel this week we read about Jesus teaching a truth that caused the Jews to “quarrel amongst themselves.” What caused them to quarrel? Jesus said that his flesh was bread and if they ate his flesh, they would live forever. Later Jesus preaches this:

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: 52-59

Jesus wasn’t speaking in metaphor. Jesus wasn’t talking symbolically. Even those of us who enjoy quarreling won’t argue with a metaphor (though we might argue how accurate it is). Jesus teaches this truth over and over again in John 6. Jesus was so committed to this teaching that he was willing to loose every single follower if necessary. 

What would make this teaching necessary? It is true. Jesus gives us himself, his own body, both on the cross on Calvary and in every single Mass in the Eucharist. The truth is is that if we eat of his flesh, we can have eternal life with him forever.

If we have the true intimacy that comes with full communion through the Eucharist, we will draw ever closer to Jesus. Just as Jesus will enter into us through our consuming of his flesh and blood, we will enter into the inner life of the Trinity in Heaven. There is no more intimate relationship than this. 

People have and will quarrel about this truth. That doesn’t make it any less true.

The decision each of us has to make is whether we will walk away because that teaching is hard, not modern, and weird, or whether we respond like St. Peter and say, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Do we believe what Jesus says is true or will we quarrel?

LIVE IT: 2 steps to this micro challenge: 1) Read the entire chapter of John 6. 2) Go for a walk and think about what happens and what Jesus teaches. 

Why I’m Catholic.

June 18th Sunday Readings.

column735Every now and again, I get asked the question, “Why are you Catholic?” At the core of my answer is Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. I am Catholic because I want to have an intimate, life saving, lived relationship with the God of the universe through his Son Jesus and with the Holy Spirit and there is no better way to have that than the Eucharist. How do I know that? Two reasons: 1) I’ve experienced profound intimacy with God through the Eucharist. 2) Jesus says so.

In our gospel this week, Jesus is abundantly clear. Over and over again Jesus says, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” or “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.” Jesus isn’t speaking symbolically. He speaks this same truth multiple times and when he is done, most of his followers abandon him. Only the disciples remain when Peter says, “To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Jesus meant what he said.

If the goal of what I do as a Christian is to deepen in my relationship with Jesus, then I should do what he says is the ultimate way to grow my relationship with him – the Eucharist. Jesus Christ gave himself completely on the cross for us. And it is in the Eucharist that we are able to receive him. Saint Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) said this, “We all know, when we look at the cross, how Jesus loved us.  When we look at the Eucharist we know how much He loves us now.”

I’m Catholic because I want to know, experience, and receive God’s unconditional love. eucharist-1591663_1280The Eucharist is how that happens most personally and intimately. Whether you are a regular Mass attender, haven’t been in a long time, or have never been, know this – every Mass is a miracle. Every Mass, the barrier between heaven and earth is removed, and the God of the universe comes into our midst. Jesus isn’t only there in spirit, but physically present in his body, blood, soul, and divinity in the Eucharist. How amazing.

LIVE IT:
Prep for Mass this weekend by reading John 6:22-69. This piece of scripture is a talk by Jesus called “The Bread of Life Discourse.” It’s awesome.

 

P.S. – Truly, I believe there is so much more to my answer as to why I am Catholic. However, given the purpose and length expectations here, I felt like I could only share this piece. Want to know more, ask me.

Oh good, you’re here.

The Good Word for Sunday Dec. 20th ~ For the complete Sunday readings click here.

Less than a week until Christmas and the preparations are winding down, just as the feelings of good cheer and joy are really ramping up. Besides the gifts and the tree and the lights, at Christmas we get to see family and friends we don’t normally spend time with. Sometimes this is stressful, but sometimes it’s a reason to celebrate.

A couple years ago my wife’s sister, who is just a year younger and my wife’s best friend, decided to surprise her at Christmas time. Victoria, my sister in law, lives in Arizona and keeps in good contact, but it’s always great when she comes in town. I knew that when we went up to my mother in law’s house for family Christmas that Victoria would be there, waiting.

We walked in the house, taking off boots and coats at the door, and just as Liz was making her way towards the living room, Victoria came out from the hallway to the bedrooms. My wife was in shock. She just stood there frozen. At first she didn’t say anything; she didn’t move. After many hugs and questions, the rest of the celebrations continued. My wife was so overjoyed that Victoria was there, she couldn’t stop smiling all day.

In our Gospel, John is so overjoyed to be in the presence of Jesus that he leaps in his mother’s womb. John’s reaction to being in the presence of God is to dance with joy. In the Old Testament, when David was brought the Ark of the Covenant, which represented God for the people of Israel, back to Jerusalem, David danced for joy so vigorously that he scandalized some people of Jerusalem.

The question we have to ask ourselves is: how do we react when we come into the presence of God? How do we react when we come in contact with the child Jesus at Christmas?

This Christmas we are going to stand in the presence of God. Wow. Think about that. The same Jesus born to Mary. The same Jesus in the manger. The same Jesus venerated and worshiped by Shepherds and Magi. We get to be near and, in fact, touch that same Jesus in the Eucharist.

At Christmas Mass, whether you attend 4, 6, 10 or 9:30 on Christmas morning Mass, the God of the universe will be physically present in the Eucharist. When you go to Mass, Jesus, the same Jesus who was born to Mary and caused John to leap, will be truly and really in our midst. Our God and Savior is coming. How will you react when you meet Jesus this Christmas?

LIVE IT:
Leap for Joy at Mass this weekend! Okay, maybe that is too much for a Minnesotan. Let your heart leap for joy when you meet Jesus in the Eucharist. When you go up to receive Jesus, smile, be happy on the inside, and let your heart leap for joy just like it would seeing your best friend.

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.