Pastoral Sharings: "Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time"

WeeklyMessage Homily from Father Phil Bloom 
Dimensions of the Eucharist Week 4: Fission
Posted for August 16, 2015

Message: As Pope Benedict says, the Eucharist is like 
inducing nuclear fission in the very heart of being.

Last weekend we had a treat: Deacon Patrick Sherrard 
visited us and preached a fine homily on the Eucharist. Today we pick up that same theme as we enter the fourth dimension of the Eucharist. The first three dimensions are: food, faith and forgiveness. You notice that each begins with the letter “f”. Same with the fourth dimension, but unlike food, faith and forgiveness, it is not a word found in the Bible. It might surprise you. The fourth dimension is: fission.

Pope Benedict used the word “fission” when explaining the Eucharist to young people at World Youth Day. He asks: How can bread become Jesus’ Body given for us? How can wine become his Blood poured out for our sins? Pope Benedict answers: “To use an image well known to us today, this is like inducing nuclear fission in the very heart of being.”

In high school science we learned about fission. It involves unleashing the energy inside matter. When I did research for this homily, I learned that one kilogram of uranium can produce as much energy as 1500 metric tons of coal. What looks like a an humble rock has enormous power inside.

Just so, says Pope Benedict, Jesus’ death “on the outside is simply brutal violence – the crucifixion – from within it becomes an act of total self-giving love.” Jesus renews that self-giving in the Eucharist. When the priest lifts up the host and says, this is my Body given for you – and the chalice, this is my blood poured out for you – Jesus draws us into his self-offering. By his cross he takes us to the Father in the Spirit.  

You might protest: But I am a sinner. I am terribly distracted. So were the disciples at the Last Supper. Soon they even started dozing off!  

Jesus takes us to the Father with our sins. Last week St. Paul gave us a list of common sins: bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, reviling and malice. Those failings afflict us, but you know Jesus still wants to take us to the Father. The forgiveness – the acceptance – we experience in the Eucharist can remake us. The Eucharist is the great sacrament of forgiveness. You may get down on yourself, maybe even feel worthless and miserable, but God does not see it that way.  

Think about this: If God put so much potential in a rock, how much potential has he put in you? A kilogram of uranium can give light and warmth to an entire city. Consider what God can do with you.  

Some of you, like me, are astronomy fans. You know the New Horizon spacecraft is discovering amazing things about Pluto, the solar system and the universe. But we have something more amazing much closer. The American physicist, Michio Kaku, said, “Sitting on your shoulders is the most complicated object in the known universe.” God has put enormous potential in bodies, especially the part we least utilize – our brains. (smile) To unlock that potential God wants to give us something even greater – the Body of Christ.  

Jesus tells us today that we must eat his flesh and drink his blood to have eternal life. It only makes sense when you think about. You and I are composite beings: matter and spirit. Jesus who is God from God entered our material reality. He did not take up a human body, then discard it. No, he rose bodily from the dead. He gives us his body so we might have eternal life.  

Before I conclude I would like address a painful question. What about those who long to receive Communion, but are presently unable? The Synod of Bishops in October may address this issue, but I want to say this. As a priest these people who long for the Eucharist inspire me. Often you and I can become casual about receiving Communion, take it for granted. These beautiful souls have so much to teach us.*  

For sure we can treat Communion as simple bread and wine. We need to look deeper. As Pope Benedict says, the Eucharist is like inducing nuclear fission in the very heart of being. Food, faith, forgiveness and fission. Next Sunday we will see the fifth dimension of the Eucharist.  

For now let’s remember those beautiful words of our first reading. “Wisdom…has spread her table.” Yes, “taste and see the goodness of the Lord.” Amen.


*We can learn from Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta) who said: “The Lord is present in the tabernacle in His divinity and His humanity. He is not there for Himself, but for us: for it is His joy to be with us. He knows that we, being as we are, need to have Him personally near. As a result, anyone with normal thoughts and feelings will naturally be drawn to spend time with Him, whenever possible and as much as possible.” (Gesammelte Werke VII, 136ff.)

Digest of Articles from Catholics Blogs and Websites
August 16, 2015

Twentieth Sunday: John 6 Part 4: The Dynamic Presence

This week we come to the climax of John 6.  But this is not the last Sunday that we have a reading from this chapter.  Next week we’ll consider the disciples suggestion that Jesus “tone down” his teaching.  That’s the conclusion.  Today we have the climax.   

John 6 is about sustenance. It is about eating.  It is about  nourishment.  It is about the Eucharist.

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

John 6: 51–58

Gospel Summary

The eight verses that constitute today’s gospel reading represent the climax of the lengthy Bread of Life Discourse in Chapter six of John’s gospel. The first fifty verses have been concerned with the spiritual nourishment that Jesus has brought into our spiritually famished world. In fact, Jesus declares, in verse 35, that he is “the bread of life,” that is, the nourishment that provides the kind of spiritual life that cannot be threatened by illness or death. He makes it clear, however, that this nourishment is available only to those who believe in him, that is, to those who accept and adopt in their lives his teaching about unselfish love.

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)—August 16, 2015

When Jesus told the crowd who followed Him that He had come down “from heaven,” they murmured in curiosity.  Today, He tells them something that caused quarreling to break out.  What was it?

Gospel (Read Jn 6:51-58)

As we noted last Sunday, Jesus engaged in a long discussion about “bread from heaven” with Jews who thought He might be the Messiah.  They likely hoped that Jesus would do as Moses had done and cause bread to rain from above, proving Himself as such.  Today, the conversation takes a dramatic turn as Jesus adds another piece of information about this bread:  “The bread that I will give is My flesh for the life of the world.”  What?

Do Catholics believe Jesus really is the Eucharist or a symbol?

The Catholic Church teaches that Jesus is truly and completely present in the Eucharist. In John chapter 6 Jesus says:

◾“I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.

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.

The Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of the Eucharist: Basic Questions and Answers

The Lord Jesus, on the night before he suffered on the cross, shared one last meal with his disciples. During this meal our Savior instituted the sacrament of his Body and Blood. He did this in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the Cross throughout the ages and to entrust to the Church his Spouse a memorial of his death and resurrection. As the Gospel of Matthew tells us:

We Need Divine Mercy Now More Than Ever

Jesus promised us that he will refuse nothing to the soul who makes a request of him in virtue of his Passion. Do we even realize the magnitude of what he said?

When St. John Paul II canonized Sr. Faustina Kowalska on April 30, 2000, he surprised the world by declaring the second Sunday after Easter the feast of Divine Mercy. He described Divine Mercy the answer to the world’s problems and the message for the Third Millennium.

Ever since, I’ve fostered my devotion to Divine Mercy, striving as best I could to say the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3 o’clock each day – the hour marking Jesus’ death on the Cross – as Jesus himself instructed St. Faustina:

Your Soul’s Delightful Guest

How wonderful is the work of the artist! By efforts both ardent and gentle, he can penetrate hard and shapeless materials with the light of his soul. The instruments that he uses, although often crude, can impart to these materials exquisite proportions and shapes.

That is the way one may conceive the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, Artist of souls. Is not sanctity the supreme art? God has only one ideal which, in its prodigious unity and because it is divine, encompasses all the highest forms of beauty. This ideal is Jesus. The Holy Spirit loves Him more than an artist loves his ideal. That love is His being, because the Holy Spirit is nothing but love, the personal Love of the Father and of the Word. With divine enthusiasm He comes to the soul — the soul, which is breath of the Most High, spiritual light that can merge with uncreated Light, and exquisite essence that can be transformed into Jesus, reproducing the eternal ideal.


“The family is endowed with an extraordinary capacity to understand, direct and sustain the genuine value of the time of celebration.”

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Today we begin a short course of reflection on three dimensions that beat the time, so to speak, of the rhythm of family life: celebration, work and prayer.

We begin with celebration. Today we will speak of celebration. And we say immediately that a celebration is an invention of God. We recall the conclusion of the account of Creation in the Book of Genesis, which we heard: “And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all his work which he had done in creation” (2:2-3).

Creation Is a Gift, But Heaven Is Our Home

With the recent announcement of the “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation,” we are again reminded that we have a duty to preserve what God has given to us. It reminds us that we are to be stewards of creation instead of masters, but what does that really mean?

What does it mean to be a “steward?”

What Do Pope Francis and Abraham Lincoln Have in Common?

The Holy Father will speak at the same lectern from which the president delivered the Gettysburg Address in 1863.

PHILADELPHIA — Although Pope Francis will be new to the United States, visiting the country this autumn for the first time during his papacy, he will be well-seasoned in American history.

Officially announced Aug. 7, the Holy Father will speak at the same lectern as did President Abraham Lincoln when he delivered the Gettysburg Address in 1863.

Pondering and Praying the Prefaces of the Sundays of the Year

I wrote yesterday in a general way about the part of the Mass that is called the “preface.” It is called this because it introduces the Eucharistic Prayer by stating a theme or reason for our gratitude. The text of the preface has a standard opening and closing which surround a varying text that speaks to the time of year, the feast, or the theme of the votive Mass.

As I remarked in yesterday’s post, I consider the prefaces to be minor masterpieces, stating succinctly, creatively, and beautifully some of our most fundamental Catholic themes from Scripture and Tradition. Many of the prefaces are ancient, while some are newly composed. Don’t miss these short gems of the Liturgy. Listen carefully to them as they are sung or proclaimed.

A Simple but Powerful Definition of Prayer

I have read many definitions of prayer, and I am especially fond of St Therese’s description.

But one of the nicest and briefest descriptions of prayer that I have read comes from Dr. Ralph Martin in his book The Fulfillment of All Desire. Dr. Martin says beautifully, in a way that is succinct and yet comprehensive and inclusive of diverse expression,

Prayer is, at root, simply paying attention to God (p. 121).

Three Tips For Raising Holy Children

Before God blessed my marriage with children, I was well aware of the modern culture war and shifts in attitudes toward moral relativism, indifference to injustices, and increasing agnostic and atheistic principles in education and politics.  I grew up in the postmodern 1980s and 1990s, which was an era of “safe sex” and condom distribution, widespread promotion of “sex education” in schools, and an overt laxity toward traditional sexual mores.


Harry Potter. Pants on women. The size of your carbon footprint. Trick or Treating. Recycling. Supporting Public radio. The theology of the body. Smoking. Homeschooling. Rock music. What does the Church dogmatically define for us when it comes to these matters?

Answer: nothing. It’s up to you. And yet, depending on where you go in the Church, your views on these and many other matters will leave you a marked man or woman if they aren’t the “correct” views. You will be stamped and binned as anything from a “liberal Catholyc” to a member of the “Catholic Taliban” by somebody if you do not reply to the probing question on these and many other matters with the correct shibboleth.

What’s a shibboleth? In Judges, we read about an incident in one of the countless acts of tribal warfare between the Israelites (specifically the tribe of Ephraim) and the locals (in this case, the Gileadites) during the conquest of Canaan:

Abortion Is a Men’s Issue

When my son was a toddler, he spent an entire summer walking around with a caterpillar in each hand. Just about everything else he encountered was bigger and stronger than he, but caterpillars were small, soft, and helpless — and, to his mind, desperately in need of his care. And so, with all the negligible strength of his two-year-old heart, mind, and strength, he took care of those caterpillars.

He’s a teenager now, and he’s taller than I am. His shoulders are broad, and he spends as much time as any teenage boy in figuring out just how strong he is — how much weight he can carry, how far he can throw things, how easy it is for him to knock things over. 

But he also spends a lot of time holding his baby sister, who is small, soft, and helpless.

There is No Equivalence – By Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.

Here’s a simple exercise in basic reasoning. On a spectrum of bad things to do, theft is bad, assault is worse and murder is worst. There’s a similar texture of ill will connecting all three crimes, but only a very confused conscience would equate thieving and homicide. Both are serious matters. But there is no equivalence.

The deliberate killing of innocent life is a uniquely wicked act. No amount of contextualizing or deflecting our attention to other issues can obscure that.

The Devil Is Out of the Closet

Ever since the devil convinced Adam and Eve to eat the apple, it has been game on!  In the past, he mostly worked undercover because obvious evil repelled most people.

Of late, however, the devil feels safe enough to come out of the closet. He once operated under the cover of atheists like Madeline Murray O-Hare who fought to rid the world of public prayer and religious displays. More often these days, the satanic church works openly. For instance, in Lansing, Mich. last Christmas, a “snaketivity” scene was erected at the capitol. No one had bothered with an actual nativity scene until after the satanic one showed up. Then, Bronners Christmas store in Frankenmuth, MI quickly loaned one out.

Where Does Such Cruelty Come from in a Culture That Prizes Kindness?

What are we to make of cruelty in our culture? At one level, there is demonstrably less cruelty on a daily basis. Many hundreds of years ago, before the emergence of a common civil law, settled governments, and national boundaries, villages were often overrun by roving bands of plunderers or the armies of nearby towns. Feudal lords or landed families were either venting grievances or seeking to increase their territory. City-states had high walls, moats, and embattlements for a reason. Brutality, rape, torture, banishment, pillaging, and enslavement were common features of the ancient world and continued well into the 16th Century in Europe and even to this very day in some parts of the world.

What Is the Source of This Darkness of Our Times?

Scripture consistently uses the term “darkness” to refer to that which is contrary to God’s order and truth. Even in the very opening lines of Genesis the world is described as kind of primeval emptiness and without form or order: The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep (Gen 1:2). But, Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light (Gen 1:3) and thus order began to be introduced. God spoke his word successively, and from this word there came order, from raw elements came that which was rational, orderly, and life-giving.

It began with the first word, “Let there be light.”

Become as Little Children

“What are you even doing with your life?,”  I teasingly asked one of my 11 year old campers.

The question was meant rhetorically, the expected response was an embarrassed chuckle and then a sassy comeback.

Without hesitating, he said, “Trying to be the best I can be.”

I was so taken aback, I didn’t respond immediately and then the moment was gone.

The next time I had a an interaction with him, a few minutes later, I made a point to say, “Carlos, that was a really good answer!”

“Thanks,” he simply said.

Teach Your Children Well

Familiaris Consortio (The Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World) is abundantly clear about the role of parents in educating their children: “Since parents have conferred life on their children, they have a most solemn obligation to educate their offspring. Hence, parents must be acknowledged as the first and foremost educators of their children. … Hence, the family is the first school of those social virtues which every society needs” (36).

Without question, parents are the primary influence on the faith lives of young people. Many Catholic parents are deliberately teaching and witnessing the faith to their children at home, laying a foundation of faith that will support their families for a lifetime.

8 Reasons Why You Should Drive Across the Country

I blame, or rather credit, my parents for instilling in me the love of a long road trip.  Growing up in the American Southwest, we took some epic trips across the land — the most Odyssean being a two-week journey from Denver to Orlando and back, the summer before my 4th grade year.  Among many memories, these trips formed significant portions of my mental map of the United States.   

Recently, I drove over 2600 miles from Watertown, Massachusetts to Scottsdale, Arizona.  After a day’s rest at the home base, I was off to a buddy’s wedding in Malibu, California and I’m now back in Arizona.

When seeking directions for a long trip on Google Maps, the handy service also shows an arc with an airplane icon and flight options.  Resist this if you can. Here are eight reasons to click on the car symbol and map it out for the road trip — an ongoing American legacy.

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