To all our parishioners and dear friends of our parish community…Praised be Jesus Christ! Now and Forever!
Does the first verse of today’s Gospel sound familiar? If it does, that is because it was the concluding verse of last Sunday’s Gospel!
As you know, we are reading these last few weekends from Chapter Six of St. John’s Gospel, often called the “Bread of Life Discourse.”
As in the previous Gospels proclaimed on the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Sundays of Ordinary Time, the dialogue between Jesus and the crowd is set in motion with a question. What is most important is Jesus’ teaching of what it means to eat of His flesh and blood.
The crowds do not understand that Jesus will sacrifice His Body and Blood on the Cross. Eternal life will only come through Jesus’ doing the will of the Father who sent Him. All people are invited to share in the communion He has with the Father by eating and drinking of the sacrificial meal that gives Eternal Life.
Through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and His Resurrection, He returns in glory to the Father and thus is able to give others the gift of eternal life. Through this movement, then, the Eucharist is forever linked to Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross. The Eucharist is a meal that remembers and makes present sacramentally Jesus’ gift of Himself in the events of His life, death, and Resurrection.
St. John extends today’s Gospel by uniting our participation in the Eucharist with our relationship to Jesus and the community of believers. Through the Eucharist, the bond between Jesus, the believer, and the entire community is maintained and strengthened. In difficult times of persecution and disunity, in the history of the community of the Church, it was this participation in the Eucharist that sustained the Church. So it is today.
The Eucharist is a sign of unity; it is the sacrament of unity for the Church. Through participation regularly in the Eucharist, all are drawn into a deeper union with Jesus and the Father. Thus, we pray for the one body of the Church, marred by divisions, that “the time of complete unity among all who believe in Jesus may return”, leaving no one cut off from the vine (see the Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1398).
Summer vacation continues for me this week in Poland. By the time you read this, I will have arrived to Catholic Poland. The vital Catholic faith of Poland is sustained by the large Mass attendance, said to be the largest in all of Europe! Vocations to the Priesthood and Religious Life are numerous and ever-growing!
All is sustained by Jesus Christ, truly present in the Eucharist. I will pray for you as I journey in Catholic Poland. Special thanks to Father Ephrem Karwowski, Capuchin Friar of St. Pius X Church, Middletown, as he covers these Masses while I am on vacation. Please welcome him to St. John’s!
Blessings on your Summer Days,