The most important belief and teaching of the Catholic Church, that distinguishes us from all other Christian denominations, is faith that Jesus is TRULY (not symbolically) present – body, soul and divinity in the consecrated elements of bread and wine. And to make a point of how important this belief is, we have been hearing what is known as “the bread of life” discourse from the Gospel of John for 4 Sundays, with one more to go. And imagine, it all began with an unnamed boy giving what he had – 5 barley loaves and 2 fish! As we have progressed over the weeks, Jesus has given us the model for evangelization. In the multiplication of the loaves and fish, Jesus fed the physical hungers of the crowd, but he knew there were much deeper hungers to feed as well. But before people could be open to the spiritual food Jesus would offer, he accepted first where they were at physically, emotionally and spiritually. He took care of their immediate needs. Only then could he gradually offer them a bread that would satisfy the much deeper hungers. While most of us are well fed physically, we all have spiritual hungers that we need to satisfy as well. We at Our Lady of Mercy are in the preparation stages to undertake an evangelization initiative this fall/winter that will speak to both, the physical and spiritual hungers of people. This initiative is called Alpha. In preparation to launch Alpha, currently the Parish Pastoral Council members and parish staff are experiencing Alpha with a weekly meal (dinner for the PPC and at lunch for the staff) and view a video and join in discussion afterward. The goal is to come to know Jesus. Not academic head knowledge, but a deepening personal relationship. Alpha is for those who have never heard of Jesus and his mission as well as for those in the pews that have a static or no real relationship with Jesus. Coupled with Alpha, we will also be embracing what is called a paradigm shift to the way we think about being parish. You will hear more about all this in the coming weeks and months.
In today’s gospel story, we are told that the people quarreled among themselves about how Jesus could give them his flesh to eat and blood to drink. While that quarrel continues today among some Christians, let us embrace the mystery and come to feast on the body and blood of Jesus who gives us true food and drink. This food leads us to the eternal banquet!
Have a blessed week!
Correction to last week’s article….the substance of bread and wine DO change into the body & blood of Jesus….but the elements do not change…they still look like bread and wine.