From the Pastor – July 29, 2012

Then 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)

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 we know, the first stages in this Year of Renewal were the implementation of the new English translation of the Order of the Mass. Although I sometimes still hear “and also with you” rather than “and with your spirit,” the new translations have been very well received. I know they are more faithful to the normative Latin text, and I find them to be a “higher form of prayer,” in the sense that the beautiful language lifts the soul in a way that Shakespeare will always be more beautiful than reality television.

The most recent activity of the Year of Renewal will take place beginning this weekend on the 17th Sunday of the Ordinary Time and ending on the 21st Sunday (August 26). The Gospel readings from these five Sundays is 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 5 Jesus discusses the “sign,” and reveals Himself as the “bread of life.” On August 12, Jesus connects the “bread of life” to His own flesh. On August 19, 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 26, 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.”

Anybody who spends any 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. The next five weeks will focus on that belief.

Rev. Msgr. Christopher H. Nalty