Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies

"Unafraid to Be Who We Are with the Eucharistic Heart of Christ"
Homily for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
July 31, 2011
Year A

Many years ago, a trial was held in a very small town. Everyone was gathered in the courthouse. The prosecuting attorney called his first witness, an elderly woman, to the stand. He approached her and asked, “Mrs. Jones, do you know me?” She responded, “Why, yes, I do know you, Mr. Williams. I've known you since you were a young boy. And, frankly, you've been a big disappointment. You lie, you cheat on your wife, and you manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs. Yes, I know you.” The lawyer was stunned. Not knowing what else to do, pointed across the room and asked, “Mrs. Jones, do you know the defense attorney?” She replied, “Why, of course I do. I've known Mr. Bradley since he was a youngster, too. I used to babysit him. He, too, has been a real disappointment. He's lazy, bigoted, and has a drinking problem. The man can't build a normal relationship with anyone, and his law practice is corrupt. Yes, I know him.” At this point, the judge rapped the courtroom to silence and called both counselors to the bench. In a very quiet voice, he said: “If either of you ask her if she knows me, I'll hold you both in contempt of court!”

It happens that very often we’re afraid of letting people know who we are – perhaps they may find out something about us that they don’t like or that is embarrassing. But that can even carry over into shying away from being open about the good things we do, like going to church and practicing our faith. We do this not only with ordinary people, but with God too. Maybe we’re afraid that if Jesus knew the truth about us, He would reject us. This is indeed, a complete and utter fallacy. Who we are – the good, the bad and the ugly, is a magnet for Christ that attracts His healing, His grace and His love.

Do we not get that message from the Gospel reading? Jesus shows His concern for the people by stating: “my heart is moved with pity for them.” What follows is something altogether extraordinary – miraculous. Jesus not only shows His concern for people but in this miracle – the only miracle recorded in all four Gospels (and twice in Matthew) – shows how He would extend His care to all future generations. Listen to the words He uses: “taking the five loaves…he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples.” Sound familiar? In this miraculous event we find a foreshadowing of the institution of the Holy Eucharist. What He sees when He looks out into the vast crowd is hunger, heartache and the infirmity of the people. They came to Him because they knew He had the power to heal and transform. They found in Him the necessary remedy for their suffering and they were not ashamed to let Him know who they are and how they felt. He, therefore, not only fed them physically but spiritually as well.

In this we find the power of the Eucharist, for Christ has the same concern for us as He did for the people of His own time. The problem is that we don’t come to Him or we don’t believe in that power. We forget what the Eucharist really is and what it really means. Pope Benedict XVI comments:

“In the Eucharist Jesus doesn’t just give us a “thing,” but himself; he offers his own body and pours out his own blood. He thus gives us the totality of his life and love and reveals the ultimate origin of this love… There the Deus Trinitas [the Triune God] who is essentially love becomes fully a part of our human condition.”

We have to rediscover that what we receive at communion time during Mass is not some small piece of bread – and it should not be called that, for it no longer is ordinary bread. It’s not a “what” that we receive, but “who” we receive – the Precious Body of the Lord, fully present to us in sacramental form – given to us for the forgiveness of our sins and the healing of all our weaknesses and infirmities. But how can we experience the copious effects of God’s divine concern for us in the Holy Eucharist if we cannot show ourselves to Him, if we cannot be ourselves with Him, if we refuse to come to Him? But if we open our hearts to Him, if we come to Him, “heedfully,” the prophet Isaiah says, meaning: mindfully or attentively; listen to Him, the will we begin to experience the graces that come from the Eucharistic Heart of our Lord and we will be assured of those benefits. We have to make that initiative and take the first steps to go out and meet our Lord in the same way those five thousand plus people did so long ago. How can we do that? We are blessed to have Eucharistic adoration in this parish on Thursday, Friday, and part of Saturday – only 2 ½ days and we still struggle to find people to come and pray for one hour. Come to Him. We have confessions every Saturday at 3pm – come to Him. We have Mass everyday – come to Him. For as St. Paul so beautifully reminds us: nothing can “separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord,” if we but come to Him.

As we approach the altar for Holy Communion this day – let us not be afraid to let it be just that, a communion with Christ, opening to Him who we are, our life, struggles, worries, joys, and sorrows. And in His care for us, may we experience the effects of the transforming grace of the Eucharist and draw nearer to Jesus in heart, mind and soul.



Fr. Jon Reardon


Rev. Jonathan L. Reardon is a priest for the diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts.
He serves at Sacred Heart Parish in Pittsfield, MA.




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