Saturday, August 8, 2009

The time of your visitation


During one hot summer day, a priest was conscious to keep his homily brief due to the heat, so after the Gospel he said simply, “Well, we all know it’s hot in here, but it’s even hotter in Hell. So, be good!” Well, my homily today will be a little longer than that, but I’ll try and keep it brief.

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever.” Today’s Gospel passage continues our summer reflection on the Eucharist as we hear another part of the Bread of Life monologue from John’s Gospel.

In today’s passage there is a lot of confusion about what Jesus is talking about. We hear that “the Jews murmured” because Jesus had called Himself the Bread from Heaven. They knew who he was, who is parents and family were. How could He say that He came down from heaven? The problem really comes down to the difference between their expectations and the reality they had in front of them. The reality before them, Jesus, differed from their expectations and so they did not recognize the moment of their visitation.

The people expected the Messiah to, literally, come down from heaven. They were waiting for spectacular events and supernatural manifestations in the sky when they would literally see the Anointed of God coming down in the clouds. So when Jesus came forward and claimed that “I am He,” they could not reconcile the reality before them with the expectations in their minds.

They knew this Jesus all too well, or at least they thought they did. They wouldn’t allow their minds and hearts be open to a reality that was different than what they expected. The result was that they missed the very presence of God, the Word made Flesh, in their midst. The message is that when we insist that God must meet our expectations and our reasoning before we can believe, we are in for a big surprise.

So, how does God come down from heaven? How does God come into our lives? Well, God comes to us in very ordinary ways. Today, God will come to us by transforming ordinary bread and wine into the Body and Blood of His Son. If we are looking up to the sky for the clouds to part and that Bread to descend dramatically, we too will miss the reality of God’s presence on our very altar.

God also comes to us in the ordinary people we meet in our everyday lives. Today let us take a second look at those people we know all too well — or at least we think we do — those people we often take for granted. These men, women and children may indeed be the messengers that God has sent to us to speak a message to us and prepare us for eternal life.

The question is not whether God comes to us or not but whether we are able to recognize God at work in our lives. The Presence of God in word and sacrament should lead us to a recognition of the presence of God all around us. Let us pray that God will continue to open our eyes, ears, hearts and minds to a greater recognition of His presence in our midst.

“Amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.”

May God give you peace.

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