Dear Faith Family,
I really love our Church. Not just our wonderful church community at Padre Serra, but the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church. The rich history, the emphasis on philosophy and the promotion of a relationship with Jesus Christ through the Sacraments are so compelling to me and I’m so grateful every day that our Lord established this Church.
Within the rich history of our Church, we have had great minds invest their very being to the development of doctrine. Church councils have been formed throughout her history to simply pursue the truth so we can grow closer to God through it. These councils involved a lot of scrutiny and discussion and these have been happening all throughout our 2,000ish year history. I find it very comforting knowing that there have been greater minds than mine to pursue our dogmas and doctrines. I’m very glad that these truths don’t rely on my own personal research.
With that said, there are plenty of things that the Church teaches that I struggle with. Again, this is where the beauty of the Church’s pursuit of truth really helps me. Even though I may not understand something that the Church teaches (and maybe even struggle with it), there is something very humbling knowing that there have been so many brilliant minds who are not pursuing an agenda (like certain politicians), but rather, there are brilliant minds who just want to reveal who Jesus Christ is to the world.
This Sunday’s gospel really speaks to me because of my struggles to understand. Are we called to be like the Apostles, who know that Jesus “has the words of eternal life”? Or are we called to be the ones who see the Church and her teachings as something hard, and not worth pursuing?
Let me clarify, struggle is fine. In fact, if you read stories of the saints, I would say that struggle is a requisite of eternal life. It is through struggle that we understand our humanity, but we can also relate to Jesus. It is especially ok to struggle with things that may be happening or taught in the Church, as long as it compels an honest pursuit of the truth and Jesus Christ.
I’m praying for all of you and I appreciate that you are doing the same for me and Youth/Young Adult ministry. If you have any questions of struggle, I just want to let you all know that I am available to talk about things. I may not have all the answers, but at the very least, we can pursue the truth and Jesus together.
Youth and Young Adult Minister
Dear friends on the journey,
I wonder if the people around Jesus thought he was a lunatic, especially in today’s gospel story. How scandalous, ridiculous and confusing Jesus’ command to eat his flesh and drink his blood must have been to his fellow Jewish people. Of course, we know he doesn’t mean literally. So what does he mean exactly?
There’s nothing better than being in the presence of a loved one or friend. But sometimes their physical presence is not enough when they’re on the phone or watching TV and you’re trying to talk or connect. They are right next to you, yet their mind is elsewhere. Think about the opposite. That special person could be a thousand miles away yet so attentive and present to you when you talk on the phone or FaceTime. The absence makes you appreciate the time you have even more. In either situation we just want to be present to one another, sharing and connecting.
While Jesus is not physically present to us today, he is so very present to us in all we do. If we choose to recognize him, we can find Jesus in people, events, and little moments of our lives. The liturgy is a special place of encounter with Jesus. He is all over our banquet hall: in the congregation, the presider, the Word and most especially the Eucharist. This is what Jesus means in the gospel today.
When Jesus said to eat his body and drink his flesh, he meant that through the bread and wine we would encounter his presence, not his physical presence but his true Presence. When we receive the bread and wine, we are in communion with Jesus, the most fulfilling complete communion we can experience. We are taking on his very being, his spirit. We are taking on Christ. What a joyous miracle this is!
This miracle comes with responsibility though. If we are in total communion with Jesus, we are taking him with us when we leave. We are now his presence in the world. That reality should give us pause. It should influence our actions, our words, our way of thinking, our decision making, and the way we view and treat certain groups of people.
Imagine if we were more present to those around us. I really think our families, communities, schools, work places, country and world would experience more understanding, acceptance, love and peace.
Will Jesus’ presence in you change the way you are present to your parents, spouse, kids, friends and neighbors?
Faith Life Minister
Today’s readings remind us of the power and promise of the Eucharist. That in seeking reconciliation and celebrating the Eucharist, we are receiving confirmation and strength for our personal journeys. We are asked to believe without seeing and that our belief will lead us to everlasting life.
I am not a theologian. I am a scientist/businesswoman who spent the majority of my career developing therapies for life-threatening diseases. I have tried to be on the straight and narrow path with God, but have strayed more times than I’d care to admit. Yet, He has always welcomed me back home.
Being a data driven person, I’ve often wondered about believing in God without seeing Him. I’ve learned that if we slow down, look and listen, that we will find God all around us and working through us:
Celebrating the Eucharist is quite emotional for me as I think about God’s love and blessings. I also think about my shortcomings, continually pray for forgiveness and strength to be the best person I can possibly be. I feel the divine surge of the Holy Spirit through the Eucharist each week.
There is no doubt about what God is asking of us in the second reading (Eph 4:30–5:2): “All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ. So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us.”
God is inviting us to join him on a most wonderful journey. He wants us to learn from Him, live like Him, forgive like Him and love like Him. I hope to learn from those of you further down this spiritual path with God and welcome others who are thinking about putting your
feet on the trail. There’s room for us all.
Parish Business Manager
I’ve never lived long with hunger. I’ve gone on diets and had to stare at food I was choosing not to eat. I’ve done a lot of physical work and been peckish. I’ve occasionally skipped meals and been extra especially ravenous. But I’ve never lived with ongoing hunger; I’ve never dealt with famine. I may have said, even more than once, “I’m starving,” but that was exaggeration.
The people in today’s Gospel, though, almost certainly lived with hunger as a normal and recurring condition. Archeological evidence, from studies of graves from most of the ancient world, reveals that a majority of peasants, who made up the bulk of the world’s population until relatively recently, lived with hunger and protein deficiency.
Without modern technology and machinery, lacking metal plows and unable to afford beasts of burden, most subsistence farmers produced only enough, when all went well, to feed their families in a hand-to-mouth kind of way. They ate what the earth brought forth soon after it ripened. They then lived with hunger until the next crop came to maturity. Droughts and taxes often stressed the poor farming family to the breaking point.
When we hear of the dogged perseverance of the crowds around Jesus in today’s Gospel, as they sought to encourage him to repeat the wonderful multiplication of the loaves, where everyone had their fill, and there was still food left over, we have to look upon them sympathetically. It also leads us to recognize the point of this passage for us. We’re not desperate about food. Our physical hunger isn’t going to get in the way of our ability to hear what God has to say…but…we have our own blind spots, places where our gaping needs, hurts and anguish overshadows our willingness to attend to what the Lord would be with us and do for us.
There is an implicit invitation for each of us to bring the places of our greatest struggles into dialogue with our communion with our Lord Jesus.
Where can we find companionship in our loneliness? Communion. Where can we find strength to overcome the difficult? Communion. Where can we find comfort in our physical pain? Communion. Where will we find life when we feel like we’re dying inside? Communion.
In receiving the Bread of Life we’re not having God “do it for us,” we’re committing to do all that we do, be all we can be, with Jesus. It takes a conscious act when we receive to make this possible. It requires us to return to our spiritual and physical union with Jesus in the moment of our struggle. We need to remember that we are not alone and that Jesus is working in, with and through us, for our greater good and the building up of the Kingdom
Communing with Jesus is not to be done automatically or unconsciously. Jesus is bringing His whole self to it. We do well to bring our whole heart, body, mind and soul to receiving Him.