Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies

Homily for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
August 5th, 2012
Year B

St. Thomas Becket lived in England in the 1200s. His best friend was the King, Henry II. They both were selfish, self-indulgent, and power hungry. They drank together and plotted together. When the Archbishop of Canterbury died, King Henry got the idea of appointing Becket to be the new Archbishop. He thought that having his best friend occupy the highest Church position in the land would give him a chance to control the Church and squeeze money out of her. But when Becket was ordained, God's grace touched his heart, and he began to see the folly of living just for earthly goals. He sold his considerable property and gave the money to the poor, stopped his sinful living and dedicated himself to serving Jesus Christ and the Church with all his energy and talent. The King wasn't pleased, and ended up having his former best friend murdered during Mass in the Cathedral. Becket traded in temporary earthly glory for a martyr's eternal crown - and you can rest assured that he has no regrets.

St. Thomas reminds us in his saintly life that the human heart was made for much more than earthly wealth, earthly glory. He is what we would call a “saint with a past.” Yet, even so, his heart was touched by God’s grace and he reformed his life. He took to heart and understood completely what Jesus meant in today’s Gospel passage where He states: “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.”

Last week we heard of the multiplication of the loaves and fish – a prelude to the famous “Bread of Life Discourse”, the first part of which we read today. The food spoken of here is none other than the Holy Eucharist. For this bread, this food sustains and develops the supernatural life and will endure for all eternity. The question that arises in this section of St. John’s Gospel is whether Jesus can compare to Moses, of whom we hear in our first reading. What they don’t understand is that Jesus promises much more than Moses. Moses promised land, good health and temporal blessings. Jesus promised an everlasting kingdom and food that endures forever. The key here is that Jesus is bringing them to faith so that He can feed them with the bread of life. As such, with faith and an openness to grace, they will seek no longer for that which is temporal, they will see beyond what Moses had done for his people and look for that which touches the deepest core of their being, that reaches the depths of their hearts and endures forever.

Each and every time we come to Mass and receive Holy Communion, we too are touched by this grace – we receive the author of life and the food that nourishes our spiritual lives. We can sometimes, however, be blinded by the “what’s in it for me” attitude. We can become too focused on the “here and now” of our faith. I cannot tell you how many people I have met who tell me they don’t go to Mass because they “get nothing out of it.” St. Augustine spoke well of such an attitude in people when he said: “You seek me for the flesh, not for the spirit. How many seek Jesus for no other purpose than that he may do them good in this present life.” We forget that the Holy Eucharist is the bread that comes down from heaven. It is not food for the body but food for the soul. It is the food that endures for eternal life – heaven touches our souls in this august mystery. Touched by the grace of this sacrament, convinced that this grace reaches the very depths of our souls, we too, like St. Thomas Becket, are motivated to live our lives beyond that which is temporal, beyond the earthly, in view of the eternal life to which God promises and to which He calls us. In the 16th century, Jesuit Father and spiritual director, Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure, summed it up well when he wrote:
“Undoubtedly, in this sacrament he renders himself infinitely amiable to us. In the other life, when we shall have been purified in the highest degree, he will communicate to us the joy of his humanity and divinity, but he cannot wait so long, his love presses him to anticipate in our regard this union, though we have rendered ourselves so unworthy by our sins and imperfections. O what love! What excess of goodness! And how immense are our obligations to love him ardently in this divine sacrament!”

Through God’s infinite love we are given, in the Holy Eucharist, the very author of faith, the author of grace, the author of life itself – Jesus Christ, His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Let us then follow the command of our Lord to work for this food by living lives worthy of being touched by heaven in the mystery of the Holy Eucharist.




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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