His Flesh for the Life of the World: The Resistible and Irresistible Draw of the Eucharist

Our Gospel today brings us to the heart of John chapter six. If you haven’t yet done so, sit down and read this chapter in its entirety to get a sense of the building drama around Christ’s teaching on the centrality of the Eucharist in the life of the believer. This makes for the third of five weeks that we read from this enthralling chapter. It also happens that one of my favorite lines in all of St. John’s Gospel is in this weekend’s selection: “and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world” (Jn 6:51). I like this passage because it reminds us that the gift of the Eucharist is not for us alone, but for those in the world who do not yet know or acknowledge it. The intended aim of Christ’s self-donation on the Cross is not only to reach the churched and practicing but also to win back the wandering, disaffected and isolated.

Christ reveals that the Father is constantly at work drawing souls to His Son and He teaches us that we cannot come to Him on our own, without this mysterious tug on our longing hearts. Paradoxically, at the very same time this longing is both irresistible and utterly able to be resisted. God respects our freedom to choose or reject His definitive revelation of Himself. It remains for us to live in such a way as Catholic Christians and disciples that those who resist are drawn to give up all resistance and reluctance and surrender to the beckoning call of God.

St. Ignatius of Antioch, the early Christian saint and bishop—who was a contemporary of St. Clement, one of our parish patrons—experienced this attraction and described it as a craving and intense longing for communion with God: “Within me is the living water which says deep inside me: 'Come to the Father.' I no longer take pleasure in perishable food or in the delights of this world. I want only God's bread, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ…and for drink I crave His blood, which is love that cannot perish.” Once the greatest attractions and enticements of the world have been understood to be insufficient to satisfy the infinite longing and restlessness of the human heart, it is God alone who draws us, as the Prophet Hosea beautifully expresses it, “by cords of love” (see Hosea 11:4). Christ’s invitation is gentle but enticing; God’s love for us is fierce and intense but never forced or foisted upon us. All praise to God and to the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar! Perhaps one of the particular intentions we can pray for throughout this month of August is for a drawing back of many souls who have wandered from the consistent practice of the faith and who have grown disconnected from the sacramental life.

As usual, a few miscellaneous notes and invitations are in order:

+ Our summer invitation to explore the new Simplified Giving opportunity with Vanco has been shared across all our campuses. See www.ourholycross.org/donate for more information on this exciting way to share in our parish mission. Setting up a giving profile with Vanco is easy and secure but of course you can still give using your envelopes. Thank you all for your generosity of spirit!

+ You might have noticed that some new musical Mass parts have been introduced at Masses across our campuses. The new settings for the Kyrie, Gloria, Memorial Acclamation, Sanctus, Great Amen and Agnus Dei are simple and elegant. Try singing along; they will become familiar in time. The John Lee Congregational Mass Gloria is a good example of bright, simple chant setting of this glorious angelic hymn. The Church encourages parishes to learn various Mass parts that allow us to raise our voices in praise of God. Along with the Pew Missal, we encourage you to continue to use your bulletin as a musical resource during Mass. Pick one up on the way into Mass and please take it home with you as you leave!

+ Speaking of music, thanks are due to our musicians for their flexibility in making due with an organ failure at St. Clement several weeks ago. We have been using an electric piano and amplifier as a temporary solution. Although the old electric organ seems to be beyond repair, we are considering various options that might be possible going forward. If you have any leads or would like to step forward to fund a possible solution, contact Chris Brand or myself.

+ Our new schedule of weekend Mass times has been implemented as of this past weekend. Thank you for your attention to schedule which is available online and in the bulletin. Thank you as well for your understanding. Our parish clergy and staff look forward to being able to strengthen our parish community and serve you better through a more sustainable Mass schedule. Avail yourselves of the regular opportunities for weekend confessions as well! You don’t have to wait until Advent or Lent to seek the Lord’s mercy in the confessional.

+ SeptemberFest is fast approaching. I am grateful to so many staff members, volunteers and friends from the community who are dedicating time and energy to make it another great occasion. The goal is to gather the neighborhood for an amazing and fun festival weekend in support of the mission of Holy Cross. Thanks are due to our many sponsors and donors for their generosity and to all of our parishioners in helping to get our raffle tickets sold. I want to express my gratitude also to our festival chairs and booth leaders who will be meeting in Guminga Hall at St. Hedwig on Monday, August 13th at 7 pm.

+ All are invited and encouraged to get out next Tuesday, August 14th to cast your vote and exercise your citizenship in the Primaries. While you are out and about, come by the parking lot between St. Hedwig and River Village (or make your way to Guminga Hall if weather is uncooperative) to partake in our second annual all-parish summer Ice Cream Social from 6-8 pm. Invite a neighbor and come prepared to make new friends from across our parish. It is significant that the church commemorates St. Maximilian Kolbe the Polish martyr-priest at Auschwitz on that day. Not only do we have a church hall named after him, but we will also have a first class relic for veneration. He was a man intensely devoted to Our Lady, so he is a good reminder for us to fulfil our obligation and honor Our Blessed Mother on her Solemnity of the Assumption, Wednesday, August 15th. See this bulletin for our many Holy Day Mass times.

Grateful for the graces of summer which we can always hope will never come to an end,                                                                                                                                           

Fr. Howe