Homily for July 24, 2011, the VI Sunday after Pentecost (Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite, according to the 1962 Missal)
It has now been thirteen weeks since we celebrated Easter, so today’s first reading may seem like a flashback to some of us, especially if we attended the Easter Vigil in the Novus Ordo, in which this reading from the Romans is used. St Paul reminds us that through Baptism we are joined with Christ in both His death and resurrection. This identification with Christ transforms us and introduces us into a new life. We have died to sin in order to live the divine life of God’s grace which was infused into us at Baptism.
But that divine life is, in some ways, like biological life; it needs to be fed and nourished. While it is true that “man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God,” today’s Gospel reading shows us figuratively that the converse is also true. The crowd listened to Christ’s teaching for three days, but at the end, they needed to be fed. Spiritually speaking, men cannot live on the Word of God alone; they also need the Bread from Heaven, the Eucharist.
It is a tragedy that the Protestants don’t understand this. Their dedication to the Scripture is commendable, and I have known many good Protestants who do their best to follow Christ, and are at times better Christians than some Catholics. Nonetheless, as long as they remain ignorant of the Eucharist, there will always be something very important missing from their lives. Maybe we could say it’s the spiritual equivalent of trying to live a fully active life while subsisting on a liquid diet. God’s love is boundless and He can find other ways to help them, but they are living outside the fullness of the Church and the Sacraments which Jesus gave us as the ordinary means of salvation.
We who have received and conserve the fullness of revelation in the Magisterium and Tradition of the Church, which includes both the Scriptures and the Sacraments, have a tremendous gift. Yet, how many Catholics only attend Mass irregularly, and receive Communion rarely, superficially, or unworthily?
We are here today because we love the Mass, we love the Eucharist, and we want the Eucharistic Sacrifice to be a moment of solemn adoration of our Lord. Let us pray for an increase in appreciation for and devotion to the Eucharist throughout the Church. Let us pray that God will open the eyes of more and more people outside of the Catholic Church to discover the great Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist, as contained in Scriptures and in the other sources of truth given to us by Christ in the Church. I invite all of us to make the time this week to bring this intention to prayer in adoration before the Eucharist outside of Mass. As you know, we have a holy hour here Monday through Friday from 3 to 4PM, but there are other opportunities as well. May more and more people receive the gift of divine life in Baptism, and through the Eucharistic Bread of Life, may God foster and guard that inestimable gift in our hearts.