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Holy Eucharist

THE HOLY EUCHARIST: OUR SACRIFICIAL LAMB
Sacrifice or thanksgiving is an act of giving; not sharing of the abundance. For true thanksgiving is an act of self-giving (sacrifice). A worthy sacrifice of thanksgiving acceptable to God always comes with a costly prize. If it costs us nothing, then it is not a sacrifice.
Moreover, the Holy Eucharist is the very sacrifice of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He instituted to perpetuate His redeeming Sacrifice of the Cross… It is also the medicine of immortality as well as a Powerful 💥 Divine nourishment for our souls, which when one eats and drinks, will no longer hunger nor thirsts nor die spiritually, but lives eternally.

The Sacrifice of the Holy Mass

SOLEMNITY OF THE BODY AND BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST, YEAR C

THEME: THE HOLY EUCHARIST: OUR SACRIFICIAL LAMB.

1st Reading: Genesis 14:18-20; 2nd Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Gospel: Luke 9:11-17

Sacrifice is something one gives up, usually for the sake of a better cause. It is the offering of material possessions, animals or even humans, especially by a priest to a deity, as an act of propitiation or worship or thanksgiving. Moreover, it is a gift that a Priest offers to God as a sign that those offering belong to Him. The outward offering of the gift signifies the inward offering of the heart or consecration of one’s life to God. It is also an act of “giving” because one is thankful of what one has already received. Hence, thanksgiving is more than a verbal expression of gratitude.

Meanwhile, today the Universal Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (Holy Eucharist or Holy Mass), which symbolizes and actualizes the sacrifice of the new Covenant so as to atone for our sins once and for all. It is the very sacrifice of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He instituted to perpetuate His redeeming sacrifice of the Cross throughout the ages until His return in glory. Thus, Christ entrusted to His Church this memorial of His death and resurrection, which is at the very heart of our Catholic faith, and the source and summit of the whole Christian life. The depth of its mystery is without limit, because it is the terminus a quo and the terminus ad quem of the Church’s activities.

Furthermore, the Holy Eucharist is the true Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ under the appearance of bread and wine. Certainly, Jesus Christ is really, truly and substantially present in the Holy Eucharist (Holy Mass) offered by the Priest; for through the Power of the Holy Spirit, the bread and wine would be transformed (Transubstantiation) into the real body and blood of Christ. The priest and the victim are the same; only the manner of offering is different.

Besides, the sacrifice of the Cross (in a bloody manner) and the sacrifice of the Holy Eucharist (in an unbloody manner) are one and the same sacrifice. During the Holy Eucharist, the sacrifice of Christ becomes also the sacrifice of the members of His body (the Church). The lives of the faithful, their praises, offerings, sufferings, and prayers, are united to those of Christ.

In the first reading, Melchizedek, a Priest of the Most High God, offered a sacrifice of thanksgiving to God in form of bread and wine for the victory granted Abraham, who then gave him a tenth of everything (tithe) in return, which shows the superiority of his priesthood that is eternal like that of Christ. This is a figure of the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross (Holy Eucharist).

Unfortunately, so many Christians have been taught only to “share of their abundance.” This is a very shallow interpretation of giving. Sharing is not giving, because people share from their surpluses, that is, what they do not need. Such people will give only after they are satiated; and as we know, the human condition is encumbered with plethora of challenges; always feel in need.

However, true thanksgiving is an act of self-giving, which is made manifest by works. Tithing is a response, not a catalyst. Giving is a sacrifice, esteeming the other’s needs more needful than our own. For true giving requires sacrifice. A sacrifice of thanksgiving is not truly a sacrifice if it comes without any effort or expense. A worthy sacrifice of thanksgiving acceptable to God always comes with a costly prize. If it costs us nothing, it is not a sacrifice. That is why the Word of God speaks of the sacrifice of thanksgiving (Psalm 107:22).

Moreover, there is an undeniable correlation between the sacrifice of thanksgiving and the paying of vows. For King David said: “I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God that cost me nothing” (2 Samuel 24:24). “I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and call upon the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows unto the LORD in the presence of all His people” (Psalm 116:17-18). Our willingness to sacrifice is an indication of our devotion to God. That’s the reason why St. Paul enjoins us to become living sacrifices, holy and acceptable unto God (Romans 12:1). For only through sacrifice can we become worthy to live in the presence of God and enjoy eternal life.

In the Gospel, Jesus Christ took the offerings (bread and fish) brought by His disciples, gazed up to heaven in thanksgiving to God, and blessed and multiplied them to feed the hungry multitude and also healed those who were sick. Thus, He satisfied and nourished both the physical and spiritual yearnings of the crowd who gathered to listen to His teachings. This is exactly what happens to us during the Holy Eucharist. We offer God our gifts of thanksgiving, and thus receive divine nourishment.

Meanwhile, all the essential aspects of humanity: body and Soul, can only be alive to function effectively if they receive their proper nourishments. For instance, the food of the body is Physical (ephemeral): bread or meat, and water or wine. On the other hand, the food of the Soul is Spiritual (eternal): Body and Blood of Christ (John 6:35). These help to boost our energy levels (physically and spiritually) to work efficiently. When we are starved, we become weak, sick and can even die without food. This implies that, for any aspect of our being to be alive, we must always nourish it with its proper food.

Undoubtedly, the Holy Eucharist is the medicine of immortality as well as a powerful divine nourishment for our souls, which when one eats and drinks, will no longer hunger nor thirsts nor die spiritually, but lives eternally (John 6:51). It also helps to detoxify our whole being whenever we worthily receive it in faith, that is, after genuine repentance (Sacramental Confessions). Thus, only then can we experience Christ’s healing touch. Unfortunately, many people are not only physically sick, but spiritually, emotionally, psychologically sick and dead, because they hardly go to Healing Centre (Confession) before receiving the Holy Eucharist. It is just like eating a healthy or nutritious food with a poisonous plate.

In the second reading, St. Paul reemphasized the true meaning of the Holy Eucharist, which was directly revealed to him by Jesus Christ Himself. At the Eucharistic Celebration, we become partakers in the One Bread (1 Corinthians 10:17), sharing in Christ’s Divine Nature. Through the anamnesis of His death and resurrection, we all become united in Christ. We who receive the Body and Blood of Christ worthily, partake of the eternal life He has gained for us.

Finally, out of love, Jesus Christ left us the Holy Eucharist as a visible sacrifice, in order to represent continually that which was once accomplished on the Cross, and to apply the fruits of it to our souls. Many Saints had strong recourse to the Holy Eucharist, which really sustained them in their life journey. Thus, they offered their lives as living sacrifices to God in response to His Divine Love, and at the end, gained eternal life. Therefore, let us emulate them by offering ourselves as living sacrifices acceptable to God, and for the good of humanity. In as much as we struggle for the physical food to keep our body moving, may we also worthily seek and desire more of the spiritual food which leads to eternal life.

PRAYER:

May the Holy Eucharist heal every maladies challenging your life, and whatever is dead in your life, may it be restored back to life, and enable you to make sacrifices for the good of others and to the glory of God, and at the end, may you gain eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Peace of Christ be with you…

Rev. Fr. Ben Okala, C.S.Sp.

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Homily of 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B.

THEME: CHRIST IS THE BREAD THAT SUSTAINS US IN OUR LIFE JOURNEY.

First Reading: 1 Kings 19:4-8; Second Reading: Ephesians 4:30-5:2; Gospel: John 6:41-51

As humans (Body & Soul), food is one of the basic needs that enhances the energy level in our body system so as to discharge our duties effectively, otherwise delirium would set in, or even death if we are starved for a very long time. This is one of the reasons why many people struggle to acquire educational qualifications or engage in many enterprises so as to earn their daily bread. Nevertheless, the funny thing is that, no matter how many years we have been eating physical food, we are never satiated. So, what then can assuage us ad infinitum?

In the FIRST READING, Elijah longed to meet God, the only reason for his existence. After his encounter with the prophets of Baal, he fled because Queen Jezebel was after his life. On the way, he became very tired, hungry and exhausted. Thus he entreated the Lord who sent His angels to feed him miraculously with bread and water. Subsequently, he was filled with Power and Strength which sustained him for the journey. This implies that God can never allow us to starve once we are in Communion with Him.

In the GOSPEL, which is the continuation of last Sunday’s, Jesus said, “I am the Bread which came down from heaven… if anyone eats of this bread, he will never die, but will live forever.” Unfortunately, due to lack of faith, overfamiliarity and strict monotheistic belief, the Jews could not accept this Eucharistic Doctrine and thus murmured. Reason, because, they were having a human/ ordinary perception of Jesus whom they see everyday. For them, to admit His divinity would imply two Gods. Hence, Jesus said, “No one can come to me except the Father who sent me draws Him; and I will raise him up at the last day.” However, we can only come to Jesus Christ through the help of the Holy Spirit, only if we can open our hearts to seek God in sincerity.

Unfortunately, among many Catholics there is a privation, a sense of absence and even estrangement from true communion with God. Many people, out of ignorance do not believe that there is Power in the Holy Eucharist (Real Body & Blood of Christ), which is the only food that can satiate humanity spiritually. Consequently, they tend to approach the Holy Eucharist with triviality, probably due to over familiarity, lack of faith or perhaps, they were not well catechized. This is a paralyzing reality among some believers and that is one of the major reasons why some are spiritually, emotionally and psychologically sick. For whenever we starve our spiritual being, we may be subjecting ourselves to a tsunamic fatality.

However, for an effective spiritual satisfaction, adequate preparation (Sacrament of Reconciliation) and proper disposition, prior and during Eucharistic celebrations would pave the way for holistic healing and nourishment. This is because the nourishment and sanctification we receive from the Holy Eucharist daily, go a long way in helping us navigate through the vicissitudes of life unscathed. Unlike the Bread and Water Elijah took on the mountain, or the physical food we eat, which momentarily satisfies our body and helps to boost its energy level to do work, when we actively and worthily celebrate the Holy Eucharist, our commonness in need of God would definitely have a profoundly unifying spiritual effects on our souls.

Meanwhile, in the SECOND READING, no matter the challenges we are facing, St. Paul urges us not to live lives filled with bitterness, hatred, murmuring, anger etc, which only make the Holy Spirit sad. Rather, we should live as those who have encountered God in a very special way in the Holy Eucharist; by living in Peace, Harmony and Love with one another. “Thus, our minds would be renewed by a spiritual revolution; having a new life in Christ, which can only come from the transforming power of the Holy Eucharist.

Finally, since Jesus Christ Has offered us His Body and Blood as our spiritual food and drink so that we may live forever, let us continue to make sincere efforts daily to receive Him with Faith. He will definitely transform our sufferings into hope in the resurrection and new life in the world to come.

Therefore, I pray that through the Power of the Holy Eucharist you may grow in Faith and Love of God and not grieve the Holy Spirit, and may God send you His Angels whenever you are in need through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Peace of Christ be with you…

Rev. Fr. Ben Okala, C.S.Sp.

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I am the Bread of Life

Homily of 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B.

THEME: LET US SEEK CHRIST, THE TRUE BREAD FROM HEAVEN WITH FAITH.

1st Reading: Exodus 16:2-4; 2nd Reading: Ephesians 4:17. 20-24; Gospel: John 6:24-35

God created us uniquely in His own image and likeness. We are composite beings with body, Soul and Spirit. These essential aspects of humanity are always in need of satisfaction. The food of the body is physical (bread, meat, water etc.). When we are hungry, we become weak and tired. Even after eating, we are not fully satisfied but still become thirsty. The food for the Soul is spiritual (Eucharist and Word of God) (cf. John 4:34; 6:35).

In the FIRST READING, due to Impatience and Lack of Faith, the Israelites became annoyed with Moses and God, for leading them into the desert where they did not have enough food to eat. But they were given Manna and meat to eat subsequently. Meanwhile, the food they ate in the desert did not actually come from heaven, but were in themselves natural to that region. The quails were migratory birds that left Africa for Europe during Spring, flying over the Sinai peninsula. They usually pass over the Sinai desert for 6 months every year and returned in Autumn by the same route. After a long flight over the sea, they would be exhausted and could be easily captured when they alighted in Sinai. Evening was the best time to catch them as they settle down to rest. Furthermore, the manna also came naturally from the Tamarisk trees. When insects stinged on them, viscous substances would exude from them. When they fall on the floor, they harden into sweet wafers-like (flakes) substances, but would melt again when the sun grows strong. They had to be collected early in the morning. It is interesting to note that both the quail and manna were natural products of the place, but the abundance of them in that vicinity as at that period was God’s miraculous deeds.

In the GOSPEL, Jesus says, “I am the True Bread that comes down from heaven.“ Anyone who truly believes in me, and eats, will never go hungry nor be thirsty. Jesus Christ is the bread of life that satisfies us. His love motivates us and gives us the strength or grace to do the will of God. Just like Christ, His food is to do the Will of His Father, because He is always in Communion with Him (John 4:34). Meanwhile, there are so many people who want to do good, but they are finding it difficult. The good news is that, the key that unlocks the power to do God’s will is eating the spiritual food (Holy Eucharist and Word of God). However, before we receive the grace, we should genuinely repent from our sins by going to sacramental confession which is the prerequisite to gaining divine strength.

Surprisingly, the Jews in the gospel were not really interested in Jesus, nor were they looking for Him because of the miracle He performed, but because of material food (bread), and thus demanded for signs for them to believe in Him. Similarly, many people today are trooping into the Church: for Adorations, Crusades, Vigils, etc (these are good) overnight because of one or two challenges or problems in their lives. But the question is, are they truly looking for Jesus? Assuming they have all their material needs fulfilled, would they still have time to go and worship God the way they were doing beforeOr if they don’t get instantly what they want, would they still be patient and have Faith in God?  Some people grumble too much when the things they hoped for are not forthcoming and have even engaged themselves into different devilish endeavours due to impatience, why? Because of Impatience and Lack of Faith (James 4:1-12).

Finally, in the SECOND READING, St. Paul urges us not to live aimless lives without a purpose, or following the illusory. Rather, “our minds should be renewed by a spiritual revolution, having a new self in the way God created us.” Since our body is the Temple of God (1Cor.6:19), when Christ comes in us via His Eucharistic Body, blood or Word, He will detoxify our spirit from evil. Thus, we receive life, and ought to become what we eat; having Christ-like character. Recall John 2:13-22 (Cleansing of the Temple…). Therefore, since Christ Has given us His Body and Blood as our spiritual food and drink that we may gain eternal life, let us be confident in receiving Him daily.

Peace of Christ be with you…

Rev. Fr. Ben Okala, C.S.Sp.

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