From the Pastor – July 26, 2015 catholic churches new orleansThen Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted.  When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat.  When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.” (Jn 6:11-14)

If you regularly attend Mass in Good Shepherd Parish, you know that it rare when I don’t mention the Blessed Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist in a homily.  Since Mass is divided into two parts, the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, I want my homily to be a bridge that leads from the Word to the Eucharist.  But the readings for Mass over the next six weeks gives me an opportunity to go a little further. Beginning this weekend on the 17th Sunday of the Ordinary Time and ending on the 21st Sunday (August 23) we will hear the entirely of the 6th Chapter of John’s Gospel.  It’s called the “bread of life discourse,” and it is the theological basis for our Catholic belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist.

John 6 begins this Sunday with the feeding of the multitudes.  On August 2 Jesus discusses the “sign,” and reveals Himself as the “bread of life.”  On August 9, Jesus connects the “bread of life” to His own flesh.  On August 16, Jesus drops the bombshell when He tells his followers: “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.”  And finally, on August 23, we hear that some of the followers of Jesus cannot accept this teaching.  They begin to depart.  And Jesus does something unusual.  He doesn’t correct Himself.  He doesn’t tell them that He was only speaking in allegory.  He doesn’t beg them to come back and understand.  He lets them go.  And then He turns to the 12 Apostles and asks them “Do you also want to leave?”  And St. Peter speaks for the group when he tells Jesus:  “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.”

As I said above, anybody who spends time in Good Shepherd Parish knows that I speak about the Eucharist as often as possible.  Why?  Because I believe what Jesus told us in John 6.  Unlike the Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, which have the same viewpoint (that’s what syn -+ optic means), John’s Gospel is more deeply theological.  He begins John 6 with the facts of the Multiplication of the Loaves, and then He has Jesus explaining and foreshadowing what He will give the Apostles at the Last Supper.  And the good news is that He will give the same thing to us today:  The Sacrament of His Body and Blood.

Rev. Msgr. Christopher H. Nalty