Our first reading describes the manna by which God fed the Jews during their desert journey. It prefigured the eucharist by which He feeds us, his new people in Christ, for our spiritual journey “He who eats this bread will never be hungry” Jesus says. Lets confess any failure to appreciate this living bread’s importance.
Last Sunday showed us Christ feeding followers in the desert. Today’s gospel continues that story. They sought him again for more bread. But He rebuked them saying they shouldnt work for the food that passes away but the food that the endures unto eternal life, his body. This answers questions some ask nowadays. Why the emphasis on the mass? Why’s it a matter of life or death to go every Sunday? Why did our forebearers worship at mass rocks? Why did they walk barefoot to mass in winter when times were hard?
The answer to these questions is given in Saint Paul’s account of the early church: “they met together for the prayers and the breaking of bread”. From the beginning what united and gave believers their identity was he Eucharist. They knew, as Christ said, that it was their life. So should we! Sure, we should pray at home too. But it cant replace our worship as the body of Christ every Sunday. And it has to be on Sunday; daily mass is not the same. For Sunday is the Sabbath day, the day we’re to set aside for rest and worship of God. Its also the Lord’s Day, when Christ rose from the dead. Coming together on Sunday, we share his risen life and become his risen body. For when we go up to communion and say amen to “the body of Christ”, we not only affirm our faith in Christ’s presence in the bread and wine, we also say that we are the body of Christ gathered in church. Christianity’s not an individualistic religion. We’re saved as part of a faith community, a eucharistic family. Baptized into that family, any withdawal means we’re Christian in name only. We may still keep the commandments and pray. But if the key communion-with-Christ aspect of our faith goes we’re out on a limb. Its so essential for our Christian journey, the church once said missing mass was a mortal sin. Christ himself says without it we will not have life in us. On the spiritual level that’s what happens when we dont eat the bread of life.
That may even be true at the social level. As it increasingly abandons mass our predominantly Catholic society increasingly disintegrates into violence, family breakdown, drink, drugs. Without Christ’s sustaining presence we lose touch with God and whats right. He says those who aren’t with me are against me, so we soon end up serving the Prince of this world instead. But people say, “but oh, all these people going to mass are so hypocritical, they’re sinners too”. Sure, we dont automatically become saints thereby; the struggle to be holy is life-long. But the presence of Christ in communion and the Word broken open every Sunday, accelerates the growing life of our souls. Don’t t take my word for it: “unless you eat the flesh of the son of man you will not have life in you”, Christ says. That’s why so many of our ancestors were saints. Some say “mass is boring”, but its not intertainment or a quick fix; it needs active participation. But even at the modern cynical level of whats-in-it-for-me it makes sense. Its fruits in our lives cant always be seen but deep down it brings peace and long term spiritual riches. Christ says: “He who eats my flesh & drinks my blood has eternal life and I’ll raise him up on the last day”. Through it we grow in eternal life until we blossom into heavenly glory. For the world’s godless values fade to ashes at last but communion with Christ brings untold happiness for this world and forever and ever, amen. So as the people of God eating the vital bread of life and becoming the body of Christ in our gathering, we profess our family faith…
Prayers of the faithful
As the living eucharistic family of God we pray for what we need.
For the church throughout the world and its leaders that they may bring all to true appreciation of the centrality of the eucharist for the lives of the faithful and the salvation of the world..
For our civil leaders that they may not put obstacles in the way of our chidren’s sacramental faith and life in school.
For our greatyouth, that they may be wise and see the importance of Sunday mass; that receiving the bread of life is as important for their souls as food is for their bodies.
For our homes and families that Sunday mass and communion may still be the key way of keeping the third commandment, remember to keep holy the Sabbath day, a way to unity, peace and grace.
For the sick that they may find in the communion brought to their homes, their way of participating in the body of Christ, the great source of comfort, healing and strength in their lives..
For the dead; having shared in the Body of Christ may they be raised up at death and the last day, as we pray for them here in a eucharistic communion that includes the living and the dead..
We ask all these prayers through the same Christ, the bread of life, from whom all good things come, amen.
Let me tell you a story of St.Maxamilian Kolbe, who died in the Auschwitch concentration camp. Bread was scarce there and wine even scarcer. But they always saved a morsel of bread and a sip of wine for mass. They passed it around among them in their cells every Sunday. It gave them grace and strength to endure their unimaginable sufferings. Kolbe eventually gave his life for one of the other prisoners, enriched by this faith in action. We have plenty of bread and wine, but do we cherish mass and communion as much; lets pray to Mary that we’ll always do so..Hail Mary