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Sunday, August 9, 2015

Father! Draw Me Close

Sermon by Rev. John Paul Shea
19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Aug. 9,, 2015
Saints Peter and Paul Parish, Tucson, AZ

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day.” (John 6:44)

In today’s celebration of Mass on this 19th
Sunday of Ordinary time, we again learn of the great gift of the Holy Eucharist in John 6: 41-51. 

You may recall a few weeks ago we heard the passage of the feeding of the 5000.

The following week we heard Our Lord explain the bigger picture of the significance of the miracle of the loaves and fish. Our Lord said to the people, yes, you saw the miracle of the loaves and fish, but, “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which [I] will give you" (John 6:27). He says to them, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. And the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world." (John 6:51). 

In today’s Gospel, we hear of the reaction of the Jewish people toward Our Lord’s revelation that He Himself is the living Bread that came down from heaven and that He gives eternal life. 

Sadly, they do not believe Him. They are thinking in an earthly manner, clinging to physical bread only. They grumble and murmur among themselves saying,
“Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother? Then how can he say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”

So Our Lord rebukes the Jews because of their hardness of heart, and He reminds them
"No one can come to Me
unless the Father draw him."
“no one can come to Me unless the Father draws him.” No one can come to Him unless they open their hearts to His grace.

My brothers and sisters, these words of Our Lord Jesus Christ in today’s Gospel passage were not just given to the Jewish people over 2000 years ago; these words are also being said to each one of us today.

Jesus is the living bread that came down from heaven, and the bread that we receive at Mass is “[His] flesh for the life of the world!" (John 6:51)
And we are reminded today -- through Our Lord’s conversation with the Jews -- that if we truly want the gift of the Eucharist to bear fruit in our lives than we must be open to conversion of heart. We must be drawn by the Holy Spirit to receive Our Lord in faith. 

There are many Catholics in the world today. But how many Catholics are drawn to our Church by the Father? In other words, how many come to Mass with the right intentions?

In fact, statistics tell us that only 30% of today's Catholics believe in the Real Presence. A mere 30% of Catholics today believe that the sacrament of Holy Communion is actually Jesus, the Son of God. Many think, "Oh, sure, it's a symbol of God." But, no! The bread that we receive in Holy Communion is the real thing! Christ instituted the sacrament of Holy Communion in order to remain with us until the end of time (Jn 14:18). He intended us to believe in Him, and, in believing, we are to eat His Body and drink His Blood so that we can have life eternal! If we do not believe, we are not fulfilling His plan. Furthermore, the deeper our trust in the True Presence of Our Lord, the more surely and effectively we will be sanctified in receiving Him! 

My brothers and sisters, to eat the flesh of Jesus means that we strive to have Jesus in the center of our lives. Just as the food we eat becomes part of us when it enters our

bloodstream and organs, Jesus becomes part of us when we eat His living Body -- if we are striving to receive Him worthily by a life lived in purity and holiness.

We come to Mass because the Father has drawn us. We come because we want to receive Our Lord worthily so that we can grow in sanctity and holiness. If we do not want to strive to leave our sins behind and grow in sanctity, than we are not ready to receive Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist. Our Lord has said, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” He has also said, “Strive to enter the narrow gate…”

Our Church is the narrow gate. All are welcome into this gate but few are chosen. This is because Our Lord knows that many have closed hearts. Many are unwilling to change their lives. 

God calls us to live in His grace. But we must be willing to live in His grace by offering our bodies, our minds, and our souls to Him. In today’s second reading Saint Paul says, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were sealed for the day of redemption.” 

Each one of us who has been confirmed has been sealed with the Holy Spirit. Yet, we can squash the Holy Spirit that lives in us through grave sin. This is why Our Lord has given His Church the sacrament of confession. Our Lord will never refuse a repentant heart that truly wants to change even though we continue to struggle. But Our Lord won’t live in a heart that refuses to strive to walk in purity and truth.

As we come to receive Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist this day, let us thank God for the gift of Our Lord’s eternal Bread, and let us strive to receive this gift worthily so that we can live in Our Lord’s grace in this life and be raised by Him on the last day.
Did you enjoy this thoughtful sermon? Perhaps you'd also like to read the light-hearted Just Discovered: The Gospel of Symbols! a parody of 3rd and 4th century Gnostic thinking.

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