Homily – 20th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year B)

Brothers and sisters: Watch carefully how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise, making the most of the opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not continue in ignorance, but try to understand what is the will of the Lord.

This passage from the second reading is most appropriate for our reading of the Gospel today. Heed its advice. Watch carefully…. Do not continue in ignorance but try to understand what is the will of the Lord.
Why is it so important? Because this passage is central to our understanding of the Eucharist which our faith teaches us is the source and summit of Christian life. The Catholic church teaches that “In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist the Body and Blood, together with the Soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.” In everyday terms what looks like bread to us, after the consecration, really is Jesus Christ himself. When the priest elevates the Host, he holds up Jesus Christ and that is who we worship. Jesus is the source and summit of Christian life.
Is it hard to believe? Yes because the appearances of bread and wine remain. It is so hard to believe, in fact, that a New York Times/CBS poll says most Catholics who go to mass regularly don’t believe the host is really Jesus Christ. They believe it is only a symbol. Those 65 and older do the best. 51%. Those 18-29 need the most improvement. Only 17% of them believe the truth. What we believe does not change the reality of what is true. What we believe or don’t believe just makes us ignorant if it isn’t the same as the truth. The Truth is that the Eucharist is Jesus Christ no matter how ignorant we are of it.
We must not continue in our ignorance. We must try to understand the will of the Lord. The scripture is clear as we see in the Gospel today.

Jesus said to the crowds: “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.”

We begin where we left off last week. Jesus is saying that he is the fulfillment of the Old Testament Manna. He says it three times in this chapter of John. I wonder how clear he needs to be before we finally begin to understand and believe. He is the true bread. The bread we must eat is his flesh. Did he really mean we are supposed to eat his flesh? Surely he meant something symbolic and not his actual flesh right?

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

The Jews understood what Jesus was saying perfectly well. They understood that what he was saying was exactly that we must eat his flesh. Literally not figuratively. There is no other way to interpret this passage other than literally. The words Christ used, clearly meant we must eat his very flesh The Jews never quarreled about what Jesus meant. They knew exactly what he meant. They just did not believe him. They probably thought he was going crazy. Do we think he was Crazy? That is the choice we are faced with. Either he was telling the truth or he was crazy. Surely he will change his mind when he sees how people are reacting, won’t he?

Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.

In fact Jesus doesn’t change his mind. He says it again but this time even more forcefully. Amen, Amen means truly, truly. Their disbelief of what he is teaching causes them to react strongly. He says Truly, truly I say to you… Do you think he meant truly, truly but not really? Or did he mean what he said: truly? In the Aramaic language the phrases: to “eat the flesh” and “drink the blood” of someone had a figurative or symbolic meaning as well as a literal one. The figurative one meant you were persecuting, assaulting and destroying someone. Is Jesus saying: unless you persecute, assault and destroy him you will not have life within you? That is exactly what the devil wants to do. Is the Devil the greatest saint then? Does he have the most life within him? If you understand Jesus figuratively or think he is speaking symbolically then the Devil is number one. Catholics believe Jesus means exactly what he says.

For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.

Jesus again says that his flesh is True food and true drink. He tells us this 7 times in 7 verses. If he didn’t mean it why would he say it so many times. What does true mean? If I tell you this is true Gold and hand you a piece of coal then I am either crazy or a liar. Jesus was neither. When he tells us his flesh is true food and true drink we take him at his word. He is God. God said let there be light and there was light. When God says something it is Done.

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.

The Eucharist is Christ’s fulfillment of the Passover of Old. During the Passover in Egypt all the families had to gather together to sacrifice a pure and unblemished Lamb. This was to avoid the plague of the firstborn. It was the beginning of the Exodus that led the Israelites out of slavery and into the promised land. The Lamb was to be eaten and if it wasn’t the Angel of the Lord wouldn’t pass over and their first born would lose his life.
Christ fulfills this. He institutes the Eucharist on the night of the Passover and brings it to fulfillment. Christ is our pure and unblemished Lamb. He is the True Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He is the one that will be sacrificed for us on the cross of Calvary. His flesh must be Eaten in order for us to begin our Exodus out of slavery to sin and into the promised land of freedom in Christ Jesus. We must eat his flesh if we are to have life.
We see this in the representation of the Sacrifice of Christ at the Mass. Jesus is the true Lamb of God, the fulfillment of the Old Testament Paschal lamb at the first Passover. Listen to our prayers at Mass. We believe as we pray. Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world Have mercy on us. Only Jesus can take away our sins. He is the true lamb of God.
This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Happy are those who are called to his supper. This refers to the consecrated host the priest holds up. The Eucharist we celebrate is Christ’s last supper. It is the fulfillment of the Passover meal of old. We eat the Lamb of God who was sacrificed at Calvary. That is how we fulfill our Passover.
Lord I am not worthy to receive you but only say the word and I will be healed. In truth we aren’t worthy to receive Christ. We would be worthy to receive a symbol. The Eucharist isn’t a symbol but the real body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. It is Jesus Christ and that is why we ask to be healed.
Two thousand years of Church teaching and the scriptures testify to the fact that the Eucharist is Jesus Christ. Saints, like St. Tarsus, died rather than surrender the Eucharist to those who would harm it. The Church has taught it infallibly and Christ promised to preserve it from error. All of these things bear witness to the truth that the Eucharist is truly Christ and not just symbolic and still most of us don’t believe it.
I could go on and on. I want to go on and on. I want you to believe with all your hearts because I know it will change your life forever. It will give you the new life Christ is talking about. I know that there is no other life worth living because I tried. I know nothing can compare with the life Christ is talking about. I believe what he says. I believe he keeps his promises and he said if we believe we will remain in him and he in us and that is what I want for everyone of us. I want you to be happy and I know that can only come from embracing the truth as God has revealed it. I will help you to understand it as much as I am able if you will let me. Sometimes I wish I could make the choice for you but then I know I would violate your free will. God has given you the choice of whether or not to believe. The choice is yours. Choose well.

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12 Responses to “”

  1. Father Todd Reitmeyer Says:

    I haven’t heard the rumors about parishes in my diocese. If they were closing it wouldn’t be because of scarcity of priests so much as it would be scarcity of people. The population density of SD is descreasing in rural areas as farms tend to become bigger and bigger. As it stands it is about 9 people per square mile. You can see that we are probably consolidating parishes but we can’t have 17 family parishes forever, especially when their kids are moving out of state or into Sioux Falls.

    Plus with 4 wheel drive transportation is much easier than it used to be and we don’t need parishes 9 miles apart.

    Your right about the athletic contests though.

  2. Paul Says:

    Our new priests tend to prech longer and celebrate the liturgy with more reverence, therefore slower. They also sing the canon and ordinary parts of the Mass fairly regularly which adds even more time. Masses now tend to range from 1.15 to 1.40.

    I love it and the numbers at mass have definitely increased since they arived at Easter, but I know there are quite a number of long term parishioners who don’t like it at all when Mass is more than the “standard” one hour.

  3. Bill Says:

    Fr. Todd, your Homily really lit a speak. This is partially observable from the 13 previous comments. I know tht God has raised you up to share His Gospel, preaching reverence for the Bread of Life. How we need adoration of the Blessed Sacrament both within and outside of Mass. Our prayers are with you. May your parish become a seedbed for a new, fresh love for the Eucharistic Jesus. Sincerely in Christ, Bill

  4. Timothy Paul O'Leary Says:

    “POEM” dedicated to Mickie and St. Michael’s Parish

    (God the Father is speaking . . . )

    I sent Fr. Todd to St. Michael’s Parish,
    And look at what he’s done,
    He taught My people to love Christ’s Body and Blood,
    See all the souls the Holy Spirit has won.

    Timothy Paul O’Leary

  5. Susan Therese Barbieri Says:

    Mr. Bales has identified an important point. We can tend to “compartmentalize” prayer. But we don’t mind when movies, television and other frivolities overflow their normal parameters. I recently heard that a Bishop intends to start closing tiny parishes in his Diocese because of the scarcity of priests. I can only imagine that some members of those parishes will be terribly irate. If their parishes close, these parishioners would probably be expected to drive 20-30 minutes to another parish. For most today in the United States, this is not a hardship. These same parishioners probably are rountinely driving that far–and perhaps further–to go to athletic contests, shopping malls, dentist appointments, family activities. But to drive that distance to attend Holy Mass will not please some. And now perhaps we are back to Father Todd’s Sunday Homily. How much does the Holy Eucharist mean to me? How much does It mean to you? Susan Therese Barbieri

  6. Al Guidon Says:

    Fr. Todd, do you think that the days of increased worship of the Holy Eucharist have arrived? There are some good signs, for example the deepened worship of the Holy Eucharist after your homily when the faithful came forward to receive Holy Communion. But is your parish one of the few? Or do you think that a real revial in Eucharistic devotion is brewing? I wish we could entice Catholics to read the Holy Father’s recent Encyclical on the Holy Eucharist. It is hard to remain indifferent after reading that! Recently, I was in a sacristry of a large parish after Sunday Mass. The custom in that parish is to have the distribution of the Precious Blood. The large glass flagon and the chalices (really glass goblets) used for the Precious Blood were put in the sacristry after Mass while the priests were greeting the people at the doors of the church. But sadly the Precious Blood remained in those glass goblets and the large glass flagon. Why? Because these had not been purified. What a shame to leave Jesus unattended after we have spent an hour purporting to be lovers of His Body and Blood! There is a better way! Thanks, Father, for pointing out the way to deeper love for and worship of Jesus’ Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Al Guidon

  7. Daniel Peter Anthony O'Fallon, O.C.D.S. Says:

    Dear Fr. Reitmeyer, I would like to echo what Denise wrote: “Praised be Jesus Christ, King of endless Glory!” This is it . . . this is to be the story of our lives. “Praised be Jesus Christ!” Because He is the King of endless Glory! This is our motto now and always. I would like to have on my tombstone these powerful words that are to capture and transform our hearts: “Praised be Jesus Christ!” Denise is “right on.” Imagine the change in our lives if we really believed this truth–and lived it. Our world would be changed upside down overnight. No more abortion, no more birth control, no more suicide and euthanasia, no more sexual sins, no more stealing, no more lying, etc. It is possible, if only we live with conviction this simple but profound truth, “Praised be Jesus Christ!” Daniel Peter Anthony O’Fallon, O.C.D.S.

  8. Joan Says:

    Dear Fr. Todd, I would be grateful for your prayers. I want so to be more in love with the Blessed Sacrament–and I want others to share that love for Jesus in the Tabernacle. We need Him desperately. Joan

  9. Lisa Serck Says:

    Fr. Todd: Thank you so much for telling me about your website. I can now keep up on the homilies I miss when you and Fr. Joe switch masses.

    This part of the Catholic faith is so precious to me. It saddens me to see the percentages of people who actually believe this is the true body and blood of Christ versus those who think it is merely a symbol. I was talking with Fr. Joe last Sunday about this topic, and we are both perplexed that people take Jesus literally when it comes to one part of our faith but don’t in another part. If Jesus wasn’t speaking literally in this regard, would some of his disciples have left? Considering how the Jewish people viewed blood, it would have taken an extreme leap of faith to continue to follow Him when He commanded we eat His flesh and drink His blood. My brother is Pentecostal, and he continues to try to convince me that what Jesus REALLY meant was to take in His flesh and blood through reading and living His word. Again, my question to those who believe this way is…why would He command us to do this in His remembrance simply symbolically rather than literally? Jesus usually said what he meant, unless he was speaking in parables.

    I look forward to hearing more of your homilies regarding this precious gift. How much closer can we be to Jesus on earth than to take in His true essence? Lisa

  10. Father Todd Reitmeyer Says:

    I would love to talk to your brother. Think you can bring him in? If not, I would love to go over the stuff with you for your brother if you want to call the office and set up an appointment.

  11. Father Frank McDaid Says:

    +JESUS IS ALIVE!+

    It is very beautiful, Father Reitmeyer, that you want to help Lisa’s brother. This concern of yours shows that the Lord has given you a “shepherd’s heart.” Your promptness in responding to Lisa and your care for her and her brother are marvelous. I will be praying for Lisa and her brother–and, of course, for you, too. Father Reitmeyer, please pray for me, your brother priest in Christ Jesus, His Virgin Mother Mary and Saint Joseph our Patron, Father Frank McDaid

  12. Robin Rau Says:

    WOW. Beautiful. Just beautiful.

    Praise be to God for His unbelievable Gifts to us; and thanks be to God for His holy and committed priests!

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