Friday, May 01, 2009

Friday of the 3rd Week of Easter - St. Joseph

Good News Reflection
Friday of the Third Week of Easter
May 1, 2009

Today's Memorial: St. Joseph the Worker
Download for sharing: "Your Work Is Awesome!"

Today's Readings:
Acts 9:1-20
Ps 117:1bc-2 (with Mark 16:15)
John 6:52-59

A more powerful experience of the Eucharist

In reflecting on what it means to eat the flesh of Jesus and drink his blood, consider this: Are WE not also his Body — his Flesh and Blood — for the world today?

Today's Gospel reading contains the Great Eucharistic Command. However, we must not look at this only from the perspective of "what's in it for me?", not if we want to be followers of Christ who said, "Those who feed on me will have life because of me." What kind of life? What's the difference between having HIS life and the one we were born with, the flesh and blood existence of physical bodies that eventually loses its life? The answer lies in who benefits: us or others.

Jesus gives us his body and blood during every Mass so that we benefit by consuming him, which unites us to him (to his love, his life, his ministry, etc.), which then should benefit others.

We also consume him outside the Mass. We draw him into us during our prayers, our interactions with others, and even by appreciating the beauty of nature. He feeds us through Christian songs and other inspiring music. He quenches our thirst for spiritual growth.

As we open ourselves to receive the presence of Jesus outside the Mass, we prepare ourselves more fully to receive what he gives us inside the Mass. Because the Eucharist is our divine Lord giving himself to us completely, in his full divinity and physical humanity, powerfully and miraculously, we leave church significantly changed — or rather, that's the plan; for it to really happen, we have to cooperate with God's plan by being fully involved in the Mass.

Consuming Jesus is supposed to transform us into his likeness. We become what we receive; we become the Eucharist, which means we're ready for others to consume us, or to put it more accurately, we give them opportunities to be nourished by the True Presence of Jesus within us.

When we give love to others, they receive God's love, and when they don't return our love in equal measure, they deplete us: We're being consumed! The same Eucharistic life happens when we give our time and skills and talents but are not paid or rewarded.

The more we're depleted and consumed by others, the more we need to consume Jesus. I can tell you from experience that the busier I am, the more I need to pray and attend daily Mass.

And remember this, which is absolutely essential: By ourselves, we are not the body and blood of Christ. The body has many parts. If you feel drained and depleted, crushed by stresses and worn down, it's because you haven't allowed Jesus to fill you with all of his body and blood, which includes the people he has given you within the Church community, for they are his hands, his smile, his embrace, and his encouragement that strengthens us and renews us.

© 2009 by Terry A. Modica; All Rights Reserved.
To share this with others, see our copyright permission page.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Monday of the 3rd Week of Easter

Good News Reflection
Monday of the Third Week of Easter
April 27, 2009

Today's Saint: Zita

Today's Readings:
Acts 6:8-15
Ps 119:23-24, 26-27, 29-30 (with 1ab)
John 6:22-29

Becoming full of grace

Was the Virgin Mary the only human who was "full of grace"? In today's Gospel reading, we see that Stephen, too, was full of grace! Think of "grace" as the activity of God made present in a human person — including you — by God's choice. This activity or presence supplies us with whatever supernatural gifts are needed at that moment.

Being full of grace means being totally and completely open to these gifts and united to God's presence within us. When we're in a "state of grace", we are free of sin and detached from everything that is not of God.

We become "full of grace" during the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The True Presence of Jesus comes to us in the form of the priest, who sits in for the whole community that was wounded by our sins. Jesus takes our sins, nails them to his cross, absolves us of the punishment we deserve, and begins to heal the divisions that our sins have caused.

The completion of the healing still requires action from us, but in this Sacrament, the action of God is a grace-filled and grace-filling experience: It empowers us to change and to make amends and to avoid repeating the same sins. It's a more powerful experience than seeking God's forgiveness outside of the Sacrament.

Another opportunity to become full of grace is during Mass. It starts when we accept the invitation of the presiding priest to recall our sins and seek Christ's mercy. It continues through the insights that the Holy Spirit gives us from the Word of God and from the homily that explains it. The "Our Father", prayed in unison with the community, furthers the healing. Giving each other the "Peace be with you" handshake or hug helps to heal us from the brokenness of community life that our sins have caused.

By the time we see the miraculous True Presence of Jesus on the altar, we have encountered his grace in many ways. We open ourselves to the fullness of this grace by honestly praying, "Lord, I am not worthy to receive You, but say the Word and I shall be healed."

Then, receiving the Eucharist is receiving our full unity with God and with the community.

If you cannot receive the Eucharist due to special circumstances, and if you're not stuck in an on-going, unrepented sin, your prayer of "Lord ... say the Word and I shall be healed" is your moment of being filled with grace. You receive Spiritual Communion. But do everything possible to receive the fullness of Christ in the Eucharist. Talk to a priest about remedies for your circumstances. The Church has ways to help you open yourself to all that God offers.

Whenever we consciously remain stuck in sin, we're choosing division over communion. Please don't continue pretending that you're not really sinning. Purifying our lives is hard, but God gives us supernatural help through the awesomeness of his grace.

© 2009 by Terry A. Modica; All Rights Reserved.
To share this with others, see our
copyright permission page.

Renew the Face of the Earth

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