From the Pastor – August 26, 2012

As a result of this,many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” (Jn 6:66-69)

As you know if you’ve been attending Mass here over the last month, this year the Archdiocese of New Orleans is celebrating a “Year of Renewal: Offering a Worthy Sacrifice of Praise” at the direction of Archbishop Aymond. As I have written in the last four weeks in the bulletin, the most recent activity of the Year of Renewal is taking place from July 9 to August 26 as we read the “Bread of Life” discourse contained in John 6. The theme that I have been developing through my five homilies is the connection between the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament) and the five selections from John 6.

The first week’s homily was on the book of Numbers and the multiplication of the loaves. Three weeks ago I discussed Exodus and how the Manna given by God in the desert prefigures God’s coming in the flesh to give the new Bread from Heaven. Two weeks ago I discussed Deuteronomy, and how we understand Jesus as the new Moses who gives us the law face to face. And last week I discussed the sacrificial nature of the Mass as I connected Leviticus – the book on priestly sacrifice – with the command of Jesus that we “eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood.”This week, the Gospel has an alarming disappointment as many of the followers of Jesus leave Him because they cannot accept His words. They don’t trust Him and are thinking in earthly terms about His difficult words. One question we might ask ourselves is whether we would have stayed or left. Would we have been content to listen to someone telling us that He wanted us to “eat His body and drink His blood”? Perhaps most important in the Gospel account is that Jesus does not call the departing people to reconsider, telling them that all will be made clear at the Last Supper when He says of the bread “This is my Body,” and of the wine, “This is my Blood.” No, He wants radical disciples who will stay close to Him and trust Him as He gradually reveals the Sacrament of our salvation. And the Apostles are those radical disciples. Despite the difficulty of His teaching, they do not leave. As Peter says “To whom shall we go.” And then comes the theme for this week: “You have the words of eternal life.” This week, we explore Genesis – the book about the generation of life. Man and woman were created holy in the Garden of Eden, and they turned away from the Father in sin. So the Father sent His Son as the new Adam to restore what was lost – to destroy sin and death and restore life. John 6 provides the mean of that “re-Genesis” – the regeneration of life brought to us through Christ, and fed to us in Holy Communion.

Rev. Msgr. Christopher H. Nalty