Meeting Christ in the Liturgy

Ordinary Time, Sundays 12-21, Year B

Select liturgy here

SUNDAYS 12 - 14
SUNDAYS 15 - 17
SUNDAYS 18- 21


 SUNDAYS 12 - 14


TWELFTH Sunday in Ordinary Time
Job 38, 1.8-11; Psalm 107; 2 Corinthians 5:14-17; Mark 4:35-41

"Teacher, do you not care if we perish?" "Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?" (Mark 4: 38. 40)
Storms or no storms, in tempest and in peace, we must live by faith. The greatest test of faith is the confidence of belief in God through the fear brought by the terrors of darkness and the tempests of temptation. Faith is given by God precisely to sustain our weakness by divine power through the difficulties life will bring.

"Now, however, 'we walk by faith, not by sight'; (2 Corinthians 5:7) we perceive God as 'in a mirror, dimly' and only 'in part.' (1 Corinthians 13:12) Even though enlightened by him in whom it believes, faith is often lived in darkness and can be put to the test. The world we live in often seems very far from the one promised us by faith. Our experiences of evil and suffering, injustice, and death, seem to contradict the Good News; they can shake our faith and become a temptation against it." (CCC 164)
"Perfect faith casts out all fear." The saints and martyrs, the witnesses, including the Apostles who feared the storm and the seas, are the ones to whom we look to learn how to be men and women of faith, even while enduring the temptations and doubts that flesh is heir to.

"It is then that we must turn to the witnesses of faith: to Abraham, who 'in hope...believed against hope'; (Romans 4:18) to the Virgin Mary, who, in 'her pilgrimage of faith,' walked into the 'night of faith' (Lumen Gentium 58; John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater 18) in sharing the darkness of her son's suffering and death; and to so many others: 'Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.' (Hebrews 12:1-2)" (CCC 165)

Faith is the gift of God, and through this virtue he enables us to call upon him in every circumstance, from desperation to joy, in tragedies and in blessings. Christ commanded us to "pray always." Prayer is the necessary means of union with God in every circumstance: "It is always possible to pray: The time of the Christian is that of the risen Christ who is with us always, no matter what tempests may arise. (Cf. Matthew 28:20; Luke 8:24) Our time is in the hands of God:
'It is possible to offer fervent prayer even while walking in public or strolling alone, or seated in your shop,...while buying or selling,...or even while cooking.' (St. John Chrysostom, Ecloga de oratione 2: PG 63, 585)" (CCC 2743)

"Prayer is a vital necessity. Proof from the contrary is no less convincing: if we do not allow the Spirit to lead us, we fall back into the slavery of sin. (Cf. Galatians 5:16-25) How can the Holy Spirit be our life if our heart is far from him?
'Nothing is equal to prayer; for what is impossible it makes possible, what is difficult, easy...For it is impossible, utterly impossible, for the man who prays eagerly and invokes God ceaselessly ever to sin.' (St. John Chrysostom, De Anna 4, 5: PG 54, 666)
'Those who pray are certainly saved; those who do not pray are certainly damned.' (St. Alphonsus Ligouri, Del gran mezzo della preghiera.)

Prayer and Christian life are inseparable, for they concern the same love and the same renunciation, proceeding from love; the same filial and loving conformity with the Father's plan of love; the same transforming union in the Holy Spirit who conforms us more and more to Christ Jesus; the same love for all men, the love with which Jesus has loved us. 'Whatever you ask the Father in my name, he [will] give it to you. This I command you, to love one another.' (Origen, De orat. 12:PG 11, 452C)" (CCC 2744)

The greatest prayer, the sacramental liturgy of the Church, is the place where prayer and love meet perfectly. "In the sacramental liturgy of the Church, the mission of Christ and of the Holy Spirit proclaims, makes present, and communicates the mystery of salvation, which is continued in the heart that prays. The spiritual writers sometimes compare the heart to an altar. Prayer internalizes and assimilates the liturgy during and after its celebration. Even when it is lived out 'in secret,' (Cf. Matthew 6:6) prayer is always prayer of the Church; it is a communion with the Holy Trinity. (GILH 9)" (CCC 2655)

The best antidote to fear is the heart at prayer, confident of the mercy of God and the availability of salvation in the sacramental life.

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy", Father Cusick

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THIRTEENTH Sunday in Ordinary Time
Wisdom 1, 13-15; 2, 23-24; Psalm 30; 2 Corinthians 8: 7. 9. 13-15; St. Mark 5: 21-43

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Jesus' raising the dead to life was remarkable, his healing of the woman afflicted with a hemorrhage was remarkable, but the prophets had also healed the sick, the blind and the lame and the prophets had also raised the dead. These raisings and healings were a return to or restoration of earthly existence only. There is something more offered to us in Jesus that sets him completely apart as the Christ. Just as it was so for the prophets, so with Christ, these miraculous events are signs only of something far more marvelous: eternal life. Our resurrection will be possible only in and with the divine person: Jesus Christ. We must be in bodily union with him if we wish to be raised from the dead to the glorified state of resurrection as he was.

Jesus links faith in the resurrection to his own person: 'I am the Resurrection and the life." (John 11:25) It is Jesus himself who on the last day will raise up those who have believed in him, who have eaten his body and drunk his blood. (Cf. John 5: 24-25; 6:40, 54.) Already now in this present life he gives a sign and pledge of this by restoring some of the dead to life, (Cf. Mark 5:21-42; Luke 7: 11-17; John 11) announcing thereby his own Resurrection, though it was to be of another order. He speaks of this unique as the 'sign of Jonah,' (Matthew 12:39) the sign of the temple: he announces that he will be put to death but rise thereafter on the third day. (Cf. Mark 10:34; John 2: 19-22) (CCC 994)

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy", Father Cusick (Publish with permission.)

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FOURTEENTH Sunday of the Year
Ezekiel 2, 2-5; Psalm 123; 2 Corinthians 12, 7-10; St. Mark 6, 1-6

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

"And on the sabbath [Jesus] began to teach in the synagogue; and many who heard him were astonished, saying, "Where did this man get all this? What is the wisdom given to him? What mighty works are wrought by his hands! And they took offence at him. And he could do no mighty work there... And he marvelled because of their unbelief." (Mark 6: 2.3.5)

Jesus is saddened by the "lack of faith" of his own neighbors and the little faith of his own disciples (Cf. Mark 6:6; Matthew 8:26) (CCC 2610)

The miracles and signs withheld from the people because of their lack of faith are a sign only of the more dire effect of the impossibility of salvation without the virtue of faith.

Believing in Jesus Christ and in the One who sent him for our salvation is necessary for obtaining that salvation. (Cf. Mark 16:16; John 3:36; 6:40 et al.) "Since 'without faith it is impossible to please [God]' and to attain to the fellowship of his sons, therefore without faith no one has ever attained justification, nor will anyone obtain eternal life 'but he who endures to the end.' " (Dei Filius 3:DS 3012; cf. Matthew 10:22; 24:13 and Hebrews 11:6; Council of Trent: DS 1532.) (CCC 161) Faith is necessary for salvation. The Lord himself affirms: "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:16) (CCC 183)

Just as all faith comes through the graces of the Church, so also the Church, through which comes the faith by which we are saved, is necessary for salvation. The Catechism discusses the oft-quoted and much-misunderstood teaching: "outside the Church there is no salvation."

How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? (Cf. Cyprian, Ep. 73.21: PL 3, 1169; De unit.: PL 4, 509-536.) Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:

Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it. (LG 14; cf. Mark 16:16; John 3:5) (CCC 846)

Some mistakenly take this for a blanket condemnation of anyone who is not a "card-carrying" Catholic. Nothing could be further from the truth. No one is condemned for sincerely following his conscience, for this itself is a grace from God.

This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience-those too may achieve eternal salvation. (Lumen Gentium 16; cf. DS 3866-3872) (CCC 847)

We would do well to remember the words of St. Thomas More when, implored by his friend the Duke of Norfolk to consent with him to the headship of the Church by, and the divorce and remarriage of, King Henry VIII "for fellowship's sake" he responded, "When you go to heaven for following your conscience and I go to hell for not following mine, will you come along with me for fellowship's sake?"

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy", Father Cusick

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SUNDAYS 15 - 17

FIFTEENTH Sunday of the Year
Amos 7, 12-15; Psalm 84; Ephesians 1, 3-14; St. Mark 6, 7-13

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
"What you have received, give as a gift." The Church is the body of Christ not just in receiving his divine life and love, but in giving it as well. Christ sent the Twelve out "two by two" and he also sends us forth. The Church is continually on the mission to evangelize all nations.

The sacramental liturgy takes its name of the "Mass" from this reality. The word comes from the Latin "missa", from the conclusion of the liturgy, when the priest says "Ite, missa est", meaning "Go, it is sent forth." The people have heard the Word, prayed and received the Eucharist and are now prepared to take these gifts out to the world. Our everyday lives should include a continual reaching out, a going forth to proclaim the truth to the world, to call all mankind to Christ. The physical healings recorded in the Gospel are of God's power made manifest through the Apostles sent out to teach and baptize all nations.

Christ invites his disciples to follow him by taking up their cross in their turn. (Cf. Matthew 10:38) By following him they acquire a new outlook on illness and the sick. Jesus associates them with his own life of poverty and service. He makes them share in his ministry of compassion and healing: "So they went out and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them." (CCC 1506)

Healings of the body are signs only of the necessity of faith and the healing of the ravages of sin through the mercy of God. It is not physical blindness that shuts us out of heaven, but spiritual blindness to the evil of sin. For a world that is obsessed with physical appearances and habitually neglects the matters of the spirit, it is hard to hear the truth that God is concerned most with the appearance of the soul. The human soul in a state of grace is the most beautiful of all creatures and radiates with the beauty of divine love. Authentic compassion always requires that we care for and tend the ill and the disabled, but even more that we attend to their salvation. Knowing of heaven and the way to get there is the only sure source of comfort to those weighed down by the sorrows and burdens of this world.

We meet Christ in the liturgy so that we may be sent out healed of the effects of sin, strengthened and made new by God's Word and the Body of Christ. In this way we are equipped to preach and teach the truth by which Christ is made known to the world. We love best when we speak and act with the charity of Christ himself, desiring the salvation of the world.

The initiative of lay Christians is necessary especially when the matter involves discovering or inventing the means for permeating social, political, and economic realities with the demands of Christian doctrine and life. This initiative is a normal element of the life of the Church:

Lay believers are in the front line of Church life; for them the Church is the animating principle of human society. Therefore, they in particular ought to have an ever-clearer consciousness not only of belonging to the Church, but of being the Church, that is to say, the community of the faithful on earth under the leadership of the Pope, the common Head, and of the bishops in communion with him. They are the Church. (Pius XII, Discourse, February 20, 1946: AAS 38 (1946) 149; quoted by John Paul II, Christifideles Laici 9.) (CCC 899)

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy", Father Cusick

(For further reading on today's Gospel see also CCC 765, 1511 and 1673.)

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SIXTEENTH Sunday of the Year
Jeremiah 23, 1-6; Psalm 23; Ephesians 2, 13-18; St. Mark 6, 30-34

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
"Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while." (Mark 6, 31) Rest is part of the cycle of our existence: those who work in the day rest at night, and vice versa; each week we rest from unnecessary labor and shopping on the Lord's Day and share in worship; each year we seek vacation time to rest from work for a period and to spend time with family and loved ones. Our lives show the pattern of seeking rest and throughout it all we look to the eternal rest of heavenly joy.

God's action is the model for human action. If God "rested and was refreshed" on the seventh day, man too ought to "rest" and should let others, especially the poor, "be refreshed." (Exodus 31:17; cf. 23:12) The sabbath brings everyday work to a halt and provides a respite. It is a day of protest against the servitude of work and the worship of money. (Cf. Nehemiah 13:15-22; 2 Chronicles 36:21) (CCC 2172)

The great cultural phenomenon of dissatisfaction and frustration because of life without God has erupted in physical and sexual abuse to the highest degree within families, an escalating dependence on drugs and alcohol to achieve an illusory sense of peace and well-being, and an increasing fixation on the acquisition of money and material goods even through the most violent means, and the great attack on the sacredness of human life in all its stages. All these trends provide abundant evidence that something is missing in the contemporary take on life and work.

Perhaps the greatest sign that human creatures have ruptured their bond with the Creator of life is the increasing custom of working seven days a week. Some people are forced to work seven days a week, and these should seek to take the necessary time on Sundays to worship at Mass. But it is the great number who choose to work on Sunday with no thought of the commandment to rest that undermine their spiritual and physical well-being by disregarding the Creator's own instructions for the care and feeding of his own creatures. Our exhaustion and confusion, "like sheep without a shepherd" can very often be traced to our own disregard for the law of rest, a universal law grounded in our creatureliness which we disregard to our own peril.

"...he saw a great throng, and he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things." (Mark 6, 34) "Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11, 28) In the liturgy our divine and merciful Lord fulfills these and all his promises. Heaven alone is the place of perfect rest and peace. The sacramental liturgy satisfies our hunger for rest through the teaching and presence of Christ, "seated at the right hand of the Father" in glory. Through the proclamation of the Word and our sharing in the Body and Blood of the Lord in the Eucharistic Sacrifice our Sunday rest becomes a perfect anticipation of eternal rest and peace.

"In the earthly liturgy we share in a foretaste of that heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the Holy City of Jerusalem toward which we journey as pilgrims, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle. With all the warriors of the heavenly army we sing a hymn of glory to the Lord; venerating the memory of the saints, we hope for some part and fellowship with them; we eagerly await the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, until he, our life, shall appear and we too will appear with him in glory." (SC 8; LG 50.) (CCC 1090)

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy", Father Cusick

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2 Kings 4, 42-44; Psalm 145; Ephesians 4, 1-6; St. John 6, 1-15

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

"How are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?" (John 6, 5) Test question.

There is a bread which cannot be bought and which all must eat to live: "I am the Bread of Life." (John 6, 35) Christ himself is the food for which man has always yearned. Christ is the Life for which the man seeks who knows he must die. "The bread that I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh." (John 6, 51)

From the beginning of time man has sought in vain, through what he finds in himself or in other creatures, to satisfy his yearning for life, an abundant life beyond death. Only in Christ can man attain at last that perfect communion with his Creator that bridges the chasm of death which has separated the two since the first sin of Adam and Eve. And yet, even after Christ has taught that it is by forgiveness of sins that we are fed with God's life and are saved from unhappiness, there yet remain the multitudes who see in God only someone to relieve their earthly longings, their temporary misfortunes in this life. They fail to see beyond the signs, the healings and the multiplication of loaves and fishes, to the reality of the eternal God by whose power these things are done.

“By freeing some individuals from the earthly evils of hunger, injustice, illness, and death, (Cf. John 6: 5-15; Luke 19:8; Matthew 11:5) Jesus performed messianic signs. Nevertheless he did not come to abolish all evils here below, (Cf. Luke 12:13-14; John 18:36) but to free men from the gravest slavery, sin, which thwarts them in their vocation as God's sons and causes all forms of human bondage. (Cf. John 8:34-36)” (CCC 549)

All are called to no less than total and eternal communion with God himself forever. This promise begins now in an anticipation of glory by receiving the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ, the Living Bread. Our relationship with the Lord will fall short, and our happiness will remain incomplete, as long as we fail to go from the signs to the reality they signify. The Eucharist is the only perfect "sign" on earth of God for, not only is his passion and death re-presented, he is really and truly present and we do indeed receive him whole and entire in the sacred host.

To possess the life of God we must receive him as he is and not as we would have him be. The sign of the Eucharist, wherein God is so often missed and overlooked, perfectly communicates this truth because it is the very Presence of God Himself. The living God always eludes those who grasp for him as an earthly Messiah only. The Gospel relates that it was from these mistaken ones that Jesus fled: "Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the hills by himself." (John 6, 15)

If we would dwell forever in God then He, truly present in the Eucharist, must dwell within us. In the Mass and in other moments of adoration we learn to see Christ present here on earth, enjoying a communion with him in order to go "beyond the veil" of this world with its hunger and thirst, war and injustice, disease and death, to dwell with him eternally in the heavenly "communion" of perfect love and light and life.

(See also paragraphs 439, 549, 559 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.)

Fr Cusick (Publish with permission.)

SUNDAYS 18 - 21


Exodus 16, 2-4. 12-15; Psalm 78; Ephesians 4, 17. 20-24; St. John 6, 24-35

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Every day, the world over, the Holy Mass is offered countless times and in varied places: from great cathedrals to humble churches and in the wild under the dome of the sky. In many places this awesome event is greeted with indifference. So many empty pews bespeak a lack of faith that God is truly present in the world in each Mass. How true it is that mankind has changed so little; many people are indifferent to Christ today just as they were when he walked the earth and shared our lives almost two thousand years ago.

Change begins with each of us as we grow in our knowledge and love of God's word among us in the proclamation of the Word and of His real presence in the "true bread from heaven" (John 6:32) as he describes the gift in today's Gospel.

At the heart of the Eucharistic celebration are the bread and wine that, by the words of Christ and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, become Christ's Body and Blood. Faithful to the Lord's command the Church continues to do, in his memory and until his glorious return, what he did on the eve of his Passion: "He took bread..." "He took the cup filled with wine..." The signs of bread and wine become, in a way surpassing understanding, the Body and Blood of Christ; they continue also to signify the goodness of creation. Thus in the Offertory we give thanks to the Creator for bread and wine, (Cf. Psalm 104: 13-15) fruit of "the work of human hands," but above all as "fruit of the earth" and "of the vine"--gifts of the Creator. The Church sees in the gesture of the king-priest Melchizedek, who "brought out bread and wine," a prefiguring of her own offering. (Genesis 14:18; cf. Roman Missal, EP I (Roman Canon) 95. (CCC 1333)

In the Old Covenant bread and wine were offered in sacrifice among the first fruits of the earth as a sign of grateful acknowledgment to the Creator. But they also received a new significance in the context of the Exodus: the unleavened bread that Israel eats every year at Passover commemorates the haste of the departure that liberated them from Egypt; the remembrance of the manna in the desert will always recall to Israel that it lives by the bread of the Word of God; their daily bread is the fruit of the promised land, the pledge of God's faithfulness to his promises. The "cup of blessing" (1 Corinthians 10:16) at the end of the Jewish Passover meal adds to the festive joy of wine an eschatological dimension: the messianic expectation of the rebuilding of Jerusalem. When Jesus instituted the Eucharist, he gave a new and definitive meaning to the blessing of the bread and the cup. (CCC 1334)

The miracles of the multiplication of the loaves, when the Lord says the blessing, breaks and distributes the loaves through his disciples to feed the multitude, prefigure the superabundance of this unique bread of his Eucharist. (CCC 1335)

As we grow in our knowledge of the Holy Eucharist, we can grow in our thankfulness each time we encounter this wonder in the Liturgy. It is so easy to grow cold and indifferent toward Christ so humbly and mysteriously present. When we acknowledge the truth of Christ present we also affirm the reality of grace, the gift of God's very own divine life, granted undeniably to each of us "blessed to be called to the Supper of the Lamb." We must continually fan the flame of our faith through every means available so that, drawn to receive our Eucharistic Lord humbly and reverently, we may behold the miracle of our own lives transformed, made holy and happy, by this greatest of gifts.

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy" -Fr. Cusick

(See also paragraphs 423, 698, 1094, 2835 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.)

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1 Kings 19, 4-8; Psalm 34; Ephesians 4, 30-5, 2; St. John 6, 41-51

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

"How could I bring a child into a world like this?" How many times have you heard such murmuring in hostility toward new life?

"What if I bring my child into the world only to see him rejected by his own people, spat upon, mocked, beaten, scourged, crowned with thorns, stripped of his garments and then crucified like a common criminal?" Mary could very well have responded to Gabriel's announcement of the Incarnation in just this way. But, as our Lady knows, every child is a sign of God's will that life should go on.

The evil of the culture of death persists in the anti-life mentality which questions the right to life of every child and the duty of husband and wife to generously accept the gift of "children lovingly from God." (The Marriage Rite) This condition is pervasive because it is often insidiously disguised as good. The culture of death thrives upon the widely held error that the evil in the world and the suffering it brings make life itself intolerable. But life is created by God and therefore always good, no matter how bruised by suffering or eclipsed by pain. Christ's Passion and death have given salvific meaning and spiritual wealth to our suffering. Men and women who forget they are created by the loving God of Eternal Life lose sight of the eternal human vocation to holiness and happiness with God himself. In an environment which does not lovingly and generously accept every human life as sacred the disease and sickness of the culture of death thrives and grows.

The Eucharist, the Body and Blood of our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, stands as the greatest sign of contradiction against the lies peddled today which spread the culture of death. The "Bread of Life", multiplied abundantly on the altars of the world to feed all mankind, calls all men to recognize their own dignity. All are are called to receive the flesh of Christ given for the life of the world and so reach beyond this world with its broken promises, sins and suffering, to the eternal joy of the wedding banquet of the Lamb.

"Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you." (John 6, 27) If we are in intimate communion with our Lord present in the Eucharist, then we are inoculated against the peddlers of death with their abortion, abortifacient contraception, infanticide, unchaste sex education and euthanasia, the arsenal of the culture of death which has declared outright war upon God and human life. The members of our society who tolerate the abomination of anti-life policies and practices are in love with their own shadow in monstrous self-absorption and condemn themselves to eternal death. Christians are called to turn away from selfishness in order to focus upon the image of Christ in the Eucharist; to be led not into the temptation of false hopes and empty promises, but to eternal life itself.

We labor "for the food which endures to eternal life" when we reverently and frequently receive the Bread of Life, and then go forth bravely and calmly into the world with its murder-sprees, rampant infanticide and glorification of perversion with hope, confident that, as Christ promised, "I have overcome the world." And we overcome the world with him, we share in his victory, as we adore and receive him in the Eucharist with a clear conscience. We look forward to the life of heaven to come in and through the Eucharist. By this divine gift we are in communion with the Paschal Lamb whom we receive and who continually unites us to himself and the Father in heaven.

In an ancient prayer the Church acclaims the mystery of the Eucharist: "O sacred banquet in which Christ is received as food, the memory of his Passion is renewed, the soul is filled with grace and a pledge of the life to come is given to us." If the Eucharist is the memorial of the Passover of the Lord Jesus, if by our communion at the altar we are filled "with every heavenly blessing and grace," (Roman Missal, Roman Canon 96: Supplices te rogamus) then the Eucharist is also an anticipation of the heavenly glory. (CCC1402)

Children are brought into the world according to God's plan and design in order to share the life of grace forever with him in glory. This is true despite all the evils which may threaten our lives but which can never harm our souls. "I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh." (John 6, 51) The gift of God's flesh and blood is a living and divine sign that life should go on forever and ever and ever. Begin eternity today by kneeling in worship of our Incarnate God present in all the tabernacles of the world.

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy", Father Cusick

(See also number 1001 in the CCC.)

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Proverbs 9, 1-6; Psalm 34; Ephesians 5, 15-20; St. John 6, 51-58

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

"Who does this man think he is? He's just a Polish priest! He has nothing to say to me." "Who do those Catholics think they are, trying to tell me how to live my life? It's my body, it's my decision!" "I don't care what the priest says, it's just a piece of bread!"

The Gospel of John, chapter 6, verse 52, relates that when Jesus taught the crowd that his very flesh is the true bread that has come down from heaven, the "Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, 'how can this man give us his flesh to eat?' " There are many who murmur today in protest, who quarrel amongst themselves and who dispute against Christ and the truth which he teaches for our salvation. Today Christ present in his Church is attacked by the murmuring of those who have declared themselves their own magisterium, reserving to themselves the authority to decide what is true and false. Today many murmur in protest against the Holy Father, chosen by Christ and given the particular assistance of the Holy Spirit to lead us "into all the truth." And today, just as we read in the account of almost 2,000 years ago, people murmur all the same in rebellion against Christ's teaching, "the bread that I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh." Many live in ignorance of this greatest gift of God to mankind, the fruit of the sacrifice of Calvary. But many reject Christ, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"

Jesus' words are unmistakable. The people who heard his preaching at the beginning could not mistake his meaning. He meant in no uncertain terms, that if they were to receive his life eternally in the kingdom, then they must begin now to receive the Body and Blood which he poured out unto death at Calvary in the Eucharist, first instituted upon the Apostles on Holy Thursday and faithfully handed down in the Church. And when some of his own beloved people rejected him, Christ did not change is teaching or water it down, he watched them leave with sadness. He made them free out of love, and out of love he preserved their freedom to reject him and lose their salvation.

The Church teaches the same today as Christ did, without change or dilution. "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood you have no life in you." Some walk away. But the Church must remain faithful to her Lord. She cannot change the truth, and in the power of the Holy Spirit remains firm in this truth. St. Justin, of the second century, testifies to the ancient faith of the Church:

"Because this bread and wine have been made Eucharist" ('eucharisted' according to an ancient expression), "we call this food Eucharist, and no one may take part in it unless he believes that what we teach is true, has received baptism for the forgiveness of sins and new birth, and lives in keeping with what Christ taught." (CCC 1355)

God is "with us", Emmanuel, in Christ Jesus our Lord who promises, "I will be with you always, even until the end of the world". He keeps this promise in the Eucharist. Let us praise, worship, love and adore him in the sacred Host, now in our Churches and in the sacred Liturgy, looking forward to our eternal communion with Father, Son and Holy Spirit in glory.

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy" -Fr. Cusick

(See also paragraphs 787, 1001, 1384, 1391, 1406, 1524 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.)

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Joshua 24, 1-2. 15-17. 18; Psalm 34; Ephesians 5, 21-32; St. John 6, 60-69

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
"Hocus pocus" is a popular expression in our culture to indicate magic powers and to enthrall an audience. We've all said the words and laughed in fun as we watch magic "tricks" and sleight of hand in entertainment. These words, unbeknownst to many people, actually come from a mocking phrase used in sacrilegious attack upon the holiest gift: the Mass. The saying originally went along these lines: "hocus pocus dominocus." Ring any bells? This is a mocking spoof of the Latin words for the consecration of the Mass: "Hoc est enim corpus meum. (This is my body.)" This is one of the many ways in which we can see that our culture is deeply imbued with anti-Catholic and anti-sacred sentiment.
In today's Gospel we read that, when Christ taught that he gave his flesh for the life of the world, "Many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, 'This is a hard saying; who can endure it?' " (John 6, 60) Our Lord, the Gospel relates, "knew from the first who those were that did not believe, and who it was that should betray him." (John 6, 64) And what does he do as a result? Does he change his teaching in order to show his compassion? Instead he demonstrates authentic love by repeating the truth, realizing that doing so would shake the faith of many who had followed him. And the scriptures testify that "After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him." (John 6, 66) Rather than changing his teaching, which is the truth and therefore can never be changed, Christ turns to those upon whom the fate of the infant Church will rest and asks them, "Will you also go away?" (John 6, 67)

The first announcement of the Eucharist divided the disciples, just as the announcement of the Passion scandalized them: "This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?" (John 6:60) The Eucharist and the Cross are stumbling blocks. It is the same mystery and it never ceases to be an occasion of division. "Will you also go away?" : (John 6: 67) the Lord's question echoes through the ages, as a loving invitation to discover that only he has "the words of eternal life" (John 6:68) and that to receive in faith the gift of his Eucharist is to receive the Lord himself. (CCC 1336)

The Eucharist is indeed the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ and this truth can never change. Today many find this stupendous reality a "stumbling block" and so reject Christ's teaching. The Lord is fully aware that many "murmur in protest" against his teaching and he leaves them free to do so. Let us pray that all mankind will receive the grace to become aware of the Lord's presence and to fall down in worship and awe in his presence. Just as Peter let the whole world echo: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the holy one of God." (John 6, 68-69)

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy", Father Cusick
(See also paragraphs 438, 1336, 2766 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.)

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