Deacon Jerry Franzen Cathedral 8/19/07
Jeremiah 38: 4-6, 8-10 Hebrews 12: 1-4 Luke 12: 49-53
Praised Be Jesus Christ Good Morning (Afternoon, Evening)
Today we heard Jesus say that he came to set a fire
which he wished were already blazing.
Fire is a vehicle for change, among other things.
That change came in the form of his being baptized in,
being immersed in, his suffering and death,
which he wished had already been accomplished.
His coming to earth would not bring peace to the people,
the freedom from their struggles
that they thought a Messiah would bring.
And then he predicted that his immersion in the fire of the cross
would cause significant division.
And, yes, that has come to be the case; we do have division.
We hear a lot of rhetoric about division in the political realm.
The suffering , death and resurrection of Jesus
did not cause that rhetoric.
Jesus was probably referring to the division
between those who believed Him to be the promised Messiah
and those who did not believe that someone
who would suffer that horrible death could be the Messiah.
Also, in St. John’s Gospel we hear Jesus say to His followers:
“Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man
and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.”
Many walked away declaring, “That is a hard saying.”
(John 6: 53, 60, 66)
In effect, they were saying how can this man be the Messiah?
In scripture we see many instances of division
between the Pharisees and the teachings of Jesus
Today there remains division among the world’s religions,
even those that worship the same God of the Old Testament.
There is even division among the Christian religions.
The Catholic faith has much in common
with other Christian faiths, but there is one very fundamental element
that yet divides us from the others.
Jesus is really present in the Eucharist which we receive.
Non-Catholic Christians believe that what they do
when they have a Communion Service is a symbol of
what Jesus did at the Last Supper.
Our Mass IS what Jesus did at the Last Supper and on the cross.
He makes Himself present and sacrifices Himself to the Father.
We believe that validly ordained Catholic priests receive the gift,
the Church uses the word “faculty”, to stand in for Christ
as He, Christ, brings about the change of bread and wine
into His Body and Blood and then offers
them in sacrifice to the Father in the Mass.
Our bishops and priests can trace their ministerial lineage
back through a succession of ordinations
back to the apostles who ordained bishops who ordained more bishops
and so on to the present ordinations of bishops.
And, of course, the bishops have ordained all priests.
Ministers ordained outside of the Catholic Church
cannot claim this Apostolic succession to have the faculty
to be the earthly instrument by which the miracle
of the Eucharist occurs.
So yes, Christ offering himself in sacrifice to the Father
and the subsequent human disagreements of the Reformation
have brought about division among Christians.
in the Eucharist?
In both St. Mark’s (14:22-24) and St. Matthew’s Gospels (26:26-29)
Jesus at the Last Supper gave the apostles bread
and said “Take it; this is MY Body.”
They shared the cup and Jesus said “This is MY Blood
of the covenant, which will be shed for many.”
Jesus did not say this is a symbol of my Body or a symbol of my Blood.
The account in Luke’s Gospel is virtually the same using the terms
"MY Body” and “MY Blood,”
with the added command, “..do this in memory of me.”
How could the apostles do this, see to it that this would continue,
that they would be able to do this in remembrance of Him
unless He granted them that power to do this
and the power to pass it on through ordination?
St. Paul’s description of what he received from the Lord
in I Corinthians 11:23-26 combines these other accounts
and is the main source of the words of consecration
used in the Mass today
We believe that the bread and wine become
the Body and Blood of Christ when the priest says,
“This is my Body…” and then “This is the Cup of my Blood…
Furthermore, there are divisions within the Catholic faith also.
You may have heard the bishop decry the polls
that show that only about 20 percent of those self- identifying
as Catholics actually attend the Sunday Mass regularly.
Wow, an opportunity to receive Jesus and they do not attend!
I would think that if they believed in the real presence,
they would figuratively move heaven and hell to get to Mass.
My guess is that most of them do not believe
in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
In a recent video, Bishop Robert Barron
quoted an even more disappointing statistic from a poll.
Only about 23% of those attending Mass regularly
believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
The remaining 77% say that the Eucharist is only a symbol of Jesus.
I was told that the percentage of believers in the real presence
may actually be somewhat higher than 23% due to the way
the questions were worded in the survey.
Still I was appalled; why is it not 100%?
I makes me wonder: “What are people learning?”
TheCatechism of the Catholic Church in paragraph 1376
states the following from the Council of Trent in the year 1551:
“Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly His Body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and his holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the Body of Christ our Lord and the whole substance of the wine into the substance of His Blood.”
So yes, there is division within the Church today,
division within the Body of Christ.
It is a division which disheartens me.
We have, first of all, Catholics who come to Mass regularly
and those who do not.
Some do not attend because they don’t get anything out of it.”
They received Jesus within their bodies when they came
and didn’t get anything out of it?
People should be eager to “get Jesus”
to welcome Him within their bodies, within their hearts.
And then there are those who receive Jesus regularly,
and don’t really know that they are receiving Him.
They think that what looks like a disc of unleavened bread
is just a symbol of Christ’s’ body.
And what still looks like and tastes like wine
is just a symbol of Christ’s blood.
I don’t know just where the Church has failed to teach
about the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist,
or where parents have failed to pass along
this very important element of our faith.
The online Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “symbol” as:
“something that stands for or suggests something else by reason of relationship, association, convention, or accidental resemblance especially : a visible sign of something invisible
a lion (something visible) as a symbol for courage (something invisible).”
Could it be that some think that what appears as bread and wine are just visible signs of the invisible Body and Blood of Jesus,
because they still look like bread and wine?”
Maybe this is the problem!
We, however, believe that by the miracle of the Eucharist,
the Body and Blood of Christ are right there clearly visible.
The change in substance without a change in physical properties cannot be explained;
it is a miracle; it is a mystery.
It is something we must believe.
Remember Jesus said. “ This IS my Body.”
not “This is a symbol of my Body” and likewise for His Blood.
Remember also Jesus said, “Unless you eat the flesh
of the Son of Man and drink his blood…”
So if you are coming to Holy Communion and thinking that
what you are receiving is just a symbol of Jesus,
please know that Jesus wants you to have the faith
to believe that He really offers himself,
not a symbol of Himself in Holy Communion.
Please pray for strengthening of your belief in the real presence.
Can there be anything greater than
such an intimate meeting with Lord himself?
St John Vianney said, “If we really understood the Mass,
we would die of joy.”