Sunday, July 26, 2015

How are you fed?: 17th Sunday Ordinary Time

(Listen to this homily here).

            Imagine entering an all-you-can-eat buffet—a first-class joint.  Picture the steak, lobster, ribs and chicken in the main course display with all the sides—mashed potatoes, bacon (the best side of all) and the like.  And the salad—if you’re into that sort of thing—plus all the fruits and vegetables.  Finally, the dessert!  All you can eat for every course.  Where would you begin?  You could eat all you could and there would still be leftovers.
            This is like our Catholic faith at the spiritual level—an all-you-can-eat buffet.
            We begin a five-week walk through John 6—one of the most important chapters in the Bible that every Catholic should know.  This is the chapter in which Jesus promises to feed us with his very flesh and blood—the Eucharist.
            In the first fifteen verses of John 6 we had a remarkable pairing with Elisha in 2 Kings.  In both cases there was a hungry crowd.  Both featured a gift of bread—but a gift that could not have fed everyone.  Elisha the prophet, and Jesus, both took these gifts, multiplied them and fed all in attendance.  And both narratives state there were leftovers.  The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.”           
In light of these accounts, I want to speak about how we are fed within our Catholic faith.  Part of the reason for this is that the most common reason for brothers and sisters leaving the Church is, “I’m not being fed.”  This should motivate our Catholic parishes to be welcoming and hospitable, provide good homilies, reverent music and the best worship possible.  At the same time, we have ample opportunities to be fed—but like the crowds we have to show up.
The main course of our Catholic buffet is the Eucharist—which is what John 6 is all about.  Jesus feeds us with his body and blood.  While we may not always feel like we are fed, if we receive Jesus’ body and blood we are.  This is an objective reality.  No matter how bad the homily may be, no matter how unwelcoming the congregation—even if the music is bad—Jesus feeds us in the Eucharist.  I would argue that no Catholic who believes in the Eucharist could ever leave our faith—because this is what feeds us.
And another sacrament we can receive any day—Confession.  At any moment we can be fed with God’s infinite mercy, be forgiven of our sins and nourished by his forgiveness.
Now let’s look around at some of the other ways we can be fed each day.  First is the way I seek nourishment every day—the Bible.  Any moment you would like to hear God’s voice—simply open up the Scriptures and read…and pray.  If you aren’t feeling fed—read the Bible.
Or another resource—and this is one of the most underrated books in our Church—The Catechism of the Catholic Church.  Now you may think, “That looks like a thick book with no pictures and nothing more than a list of rules.”  Well, it is thick and has no pictures, but it isn’t a sterile rulebook.  This isn’t a manual of no, bigotry or rules.  It is a study from the Scriptures and inspiring teachings of the saints.  It guides us deeper into love of God and neighbor and can be taken to prayer. 
Eventually I want to get a bookshelf in the back of our Church with nothing but Bibles and Catechisms for your use…keep your eyes peeled!
Next, please check out our parish library.  Over the past couple of months we have sorted through books and updated what we offer.  I want our library to be a place with the fullness of Catholic teaching that inspires us to grow.  We also focused on evangelization.  Our library is at the head of the donut line—check out a book and learn!
Since moving to International Falls, I have discovered another way to be fed intellectually—through Lighthouse Media cds.  They feature inspiring talks by some of the best speakers, youth ministers and priests around our country.  With the long drives we have, why not put in a cd to help you learn?
These are a few of the many options in our buffet.  I could go on and on about Catholic social teaching, morality, service to the poor, sacred art and music and the like.  The point I want to make—show up and be fed!  Sample the all-you-can-eat buffet and come back for seconds with what you really enjoy.
Check out John 6 this week.  Reflect about how you are fed.  If you aren’t feeling satisfied, make an effort to be fed with the abundance of our faith.  And enjoy being fed today through Jesus’ body and blood in the Eucharist.

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