Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!

Lætáre (Fourth) Sunday of Lent—3 April A.D. 2011

“This is My body.... This is My blood.”

Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English
Lenten Observance

The rose colored vestments for Lætáre Sunday tell us that Lent is roughly half over.
We are urged to rejoice today, but to rededicate ourselves to
the observance of Lent on the morrow.

    The event described in today's Gospel is intended by our Lord to make belief in His later revelations a little bit easier.  He certainly knew that if He announced His Sacramental system to the crowds without any preparation, few (if any) would have been able to believe Him.  He knew from the very beginning that at the Last Supper he would say the words of Consecration, and bread and wine would become His true Body and Blood—Humanity and Divinity.  He knew that this action, which seemed symbolic would actually be united to the events of the following day, as He surrendered His Body and poured out His Blood on the Cross.  He knew that each time the actions of this Supper were repeated by His apostles and their descendents, the one Sacrifice of the Cross would be renewed in that time and place.  He knew that in the future, His Body and Blood would be truly present in each consecrated piece of Bread; in each consecrated drop of Wine—in a hundred different places, or a thousand, or in a million.

    Yet, He also knew that these concepts were difficult for the limited mind of man to grasp.  So He began with this demonstration of His ability to go beyond the limitations of the physical universe.  A few loaves and fishes clearly could not feed five thousand people—no way—double or triple the loaves; halve or quarter the crowd; it didn't make any difference—it still couldn't be done.  So our Lord did it.

    Just as He gives us His Body and Blood across distances of thousands of years and thousands of miles—Just as He gives Himself completely to us, while simultaneously giving Himself to thousands or millions of others—In just that way, He gave the loaves and fishes to all five thousand of the crowd.  That way, later on, when He asked them to believe in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, they would have something to remember, and to agree that if He could do the one, He could do the other.

    And, in fact, it is in this same sixth chapter of St. John's Gospel that we read of our Lord telling the crowd that He was going to give them His Body and Blood as their spiritual food.  He didn't give them the opportunity to forget.  And they believed Him—Right?

    Well, not exactly right.  Some of them did; probably most of them.  But man seems to have an infinite capacity to get things wrong, and at least a few of them began to question Him: "How can this man give is His flesh to eat; His blood to drink?"  Even though they had seen this miracle of the loaves and fishes—even though some of them had seen Him cure the sick, and cast out demons, and work other miracles—they still couldn't accept His word—called Him a liar, in effect.  And, they left Him.

    And, it is worth noting that He didn't call them back.  He didn't try to recover the loss of these followers by diluting the truth He was trying to convey to them.  He didn't chase after them, telling them that it was okay if they just wanted to believe in the Eucharist as a symbol of His presence.  He didn't try to regain their confidence by telling them that they could think of the Mass as just a friendly meal if they couldn't accept it as the renewal of the Sacrifice of the Cross.

    That is the difference between our Lord and His followers, on the one hand, and those who follow the devil and the world, on the other.  Those of the world will tell you what you want to hear, and compromise their principles, just to gain your support.  Those who are of the Lord can only tell you the truth—even if it is not what you want to hear; even if it makes you angry; even if it drives you away.

    Because the truth is nothing less than what is in the mind of God.  To be philosophical, the truth is the Word of God; the “Word made flesh, to dwell amongst us”; the truth is Jesus Christ.

    But, just for a moment now, let's return to the meal described in today's Gospel.  I say “return,” because our Lord provided this meal at least as much for us as for those who were actually there.  Some of them didn't really need it, for they had seen our Lord do all sorts of other wonderful things.  They already knew of His power.

    For us, it is important to see these demonstrations of our Lord's power, and of His divinity.  If faith is belief in what God has revealed—and it is—we must have some assurance that Jesus is God, and know what He has revealed.

    Jesus Christ hosted this meal, right about this time of year, two thousand years ago, so that we could know, and so that we could believe: … that every time we attend Mass, we are standing with Him at the foot of His cross, renewing the Sacrifice of our Redemption … that every time we receive Holy Communion we are truly receiving Him in His entirety—no matter how many others receive with us, around the world.

    Jesus Christ hosted this meal for us, so that we could know that His Word is Truth, even when, sometimes, the truth is difficult—and distinguish His Truth from the ego-flattering errors of the world.

    We are drawing close to Holy Week.  I hope you will schedule your time so that you can attend the Masses that week, as we re-live the events our Lord's Passion and Death—as we re-live the Last Supper, the institution of the Blessed Sacrament, and as we see its connection to the Sacrifice of the Cross.  Between now and then, I hope you will take the opportunity to read this sixth chapter of Saint John's Gospel for yourself in its entirety.  That way you will know for yourself when, on Holy Thursday, we celebrate the the Last Supper—that our Lord was speaking the plain truth when He gave the Apostles what appeared to be bread and wine, while speaking the words:  “This is My body.... This is my blood.”




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