Posted by: frroberts | August 7, 2015

Sunday Sermon Notes

This week we continue with part two of a three-part series of homilies on the Eucharist.  Last week we talked a little bit about what it might look like for us to have Jesus as our Bread of Life.  Specifically, we discussed how we can give Christ really present in the Eucharist what little we have and let Him take it, break it and multiply it to superabundance.  We reflected on one very special example of a Catholic widow who forgave her husband’s murderer recently in Indianapolis. Today, we focus on how this multiplication works.  Let’s listen again to the words our Savior:

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.”

Jesus really is “the living bread come down from heaven.”  This fact corresponds with something that all of us learned when we were in first communion class.  Namely, that although the Eucharist looks like simple bread and wine, it is really in its deepest  reality Jesus’ Body and Blood.  We call this dogma of the faith the “real presence.”  Jesus Christ is present in the Eucharist Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.  What we usually did not learn when we were in second grade is why. He is present.

Jesus Christ is present in the Eucharist in order to give us life.

Let’s be clear that it is about so much more than going to heaven when we die, although the ultimate effect of receiving Holy Communion with no unconfessed mortal sins will be eternal life with God  in heaven.    Forget about what will happen after we die.  How can the Eucharist give us life right now?   How can the Eucharist make our lives more full?

Jesus loved each one of us so much that He freely chose to die on the Cross to pay the price for us sins.  That same Jesus is the one whose flesh we receive when we come forward to receive Holy Communion.  He loved us so much that He wanted to remain with us, be near us and feed us with our flesh and blood.  In our darkest hours, this love should be a light that gives us the peace of knowing that no matter how bad things seem to be, God never gives up on us.  He remains with us in the Eucharist and waits for us to come to Him and receive His love.

When we are open to the love that He has for us, our lives will change.  We will start to feel better about ourselves, which is a consequence of the awareness of being loved.  We will also start feeling better about the people around us and try to treat them accordingly.  Our lives will begin to have a purpose that gives us a spring to our step.

We have a lot to learn, you and I, about the Eucharist.  Let’s face it, despite that fact that we come to Mass, we don’t always feel like we get much out of it.  We find it hard to love others more than we would like to admit.  Our lives can feel purposeless, as if we are doing nothing more than marking time until we die.

I suggest that we try learning from a young boy who lived centuries ago about what it means to let the Eucharist give us life.

In the 200s in Rome there lived a young boy named Tarcisius.  During this time the Roman Empire persecuted Christians and Mass had to be celebrated underground so that priests would not be arrested.  Many Christians had already been imprisoned simply because they belonged to the Catholic Church.  Many of those imprisoned were awaiting execution and wanted to receive  Jesus one last time before they died. Initially, priests disguised themselves in order to bring Holy Communion to them, but this approach proved too dangerous because the guards started to recognize the priests arrest them, too.

Tarcisius, who was probably about twelve years old, volunteered to bring Holy Communion to some of the condemned Christians.  At first, the priest was reluctant on account of Tarcisius’ age, but the boy’s persistence convinced him.  “Father, no one would expect a boy like me to carry Christ’s Body and Blood.”  Before giving in to Tarcisius, the priest had one final question. “Will you guard the Holy Mysteries faithfully and safely?” The boy stood firm. looked directly into the priest’s eyes and promised,  “I would die rather than let go of them.”  So the priest entrusted the Holy Eucharist to little Tarcisius and he left to bring the prisoners their final Holy Communion.

Along the way Tarcisius ran into some pagan friends who wanted to play.  The boy refused politely and said that he needed to be somewhere.  One of the older pagan boys noticed that Tarcisius seemed to be holding something close to his chest.  “What is that you are carrying?”  Tarcisius tried to ignore the question and began to walk away.  The older boy, who was much larger, grabbed him and insisted on seeing what Tarcisius was clutching.  Soon the whole group was trying to pry the Eucharist away from him.  During the struggle, Tarcisius fell to the ground. As he lay on the ground, he whispered a prayer, “Jesus, help me.”  One of the other boys heard him and shouted, “Tarcisius is a Christian.”  They began to kick Tarcisius and throw stones at him.  No matter what they did, he would not surrender the Eucharist to them.  Several minutes into this brutal attack, a Roman solider named Quadratus, who was secretly a Christian, spotted the ruckus.  As he drew near on his horse, the boys fled in fear, leaving Tarcisus beaten almost beyond recognition.  The dying boy asked Quadratus to take him to see the priest so that he could return the Eucharist safely to the Tabernacle.  By the time they got there, Tarcisius was dead.

Saint Tarcisius understood the meaning of Jesus’ words, “the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”  His life and death remind us of a very important spiritual truth: When we believe that something is worth living for, we will also believe that it is worth dying for.  Saint Tarcisius came to know Christ’s love so deeply when he received Holy Communion that he was willing to put his life at risk in order to share Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament with others.

How can we encounter the love of Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament?

Let me propose the following.  Can each one of resolve to set aside one hour during this week to come before our Lord present in the Blessed Sacrament in order to pray?  If we do so with open hearts, we will find that we will not regret it.


Responses

  1. Father Roberts, what would you say to a Protestant who says they don’t need Jesus in the form of the Eucharist because he is already always with them. My answer was because he says we must do so in John Chapter 6. Any other good responses? Also a good comment from author Vinny Flynn about the Eucharist: he said an opponent to Catholicism once said, “If they really believed what they say they believed, they would crawl on their hands and knees to receive it.” Something to think about … :)Thanks.

    Like

  2. I would also refer them to the words of institution. “This is my body. Do this in remembrance of me This is the cup of my blood. Do this in remembrance of me.”

    Is means is.

    Like


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