Sunday: The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. Date: June 18, 2017. Year: A The readings: [Deut. 8:2-3, 14-16; 1 Cor. 10:16-17; Jn. 6:51-59] The message: The Sacrament of Life. Prepared by: Catholic Doors Ministry. Total words: 1792
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My brothers and sisters, during today's readings, Jesus clearly told us that in order to inherit the Kingdom of God, we must receive the Church Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Those who reject the life giving Bread from Heaven are spiritually dead and they will lose the final eternal glory that awaits the faithful!
It is sad that so many are blind to this truth. How often do we hear someone say, "I am saved because I have faith in Jesus!" How often do we hear others say, "I am saved because I was baptized!" Such statements are based on the misunderstood words of Jesus who said, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit." [Jn. 3:5] While identifying the first word "water" with the Sacrament of Baptism, these poor misguided souls have totally ignore the second word, "Spirit." While these souls have been born of water, they have not been born of the Spirit.
My brothers and sisters, when we thoroughly study the Holy Bible, we learn that the word water signifies the Sacrament of Baptism. We also learn that being born of the Spirit signifies to be sanctified in Christ. And sanctification means to persevere in the living faith.
When we were baptized with water, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we received the "righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ" [Rom. 3:22] "whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by His blood, effective through faith. He did this to show His righteousness, because in His Divine forbearance He had passed over the sins (that we had) previously committed." [Rom. 3:25] I hope that all have heard the last words that were just said, "He, Jesus, passed over the sins (that we had) previously committed." Contrary to the belief of many who are being deceived, the Sacrament of Baptism alone does not save anyone. The sins that committed after the Sacrament of Baptism are not erased; they will be used against us on Judgment Day.
To maintain our righteousness in Christ after receiving the Sacrament of Baptism, we need the Church Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. To support this truth that I am telling you today, I am going to briefly review for you the history of God's Old and New Covenants of God.
When God chose Abraham as the spiritual father of mankind, He promised to bless him and that through him, all the families of the earth, including the Gentiles, shall be blessed. [Gen. 12:3; Gal. 3:8; Heb. 6:13-4] You all know how God then chose Moses to lead His chosen people into the desert for 40 years before they reached the promised land. Generation after generation, God was with His people.
Through Moses, God made a Covenant. If His chosen people remained faithful to Him and obeyed His commandments, He would bless them abundantly. If they disobeyed Him, they would be cursed. Over the centuries that followed, God's people turned away from Him, refusing to obey His commandments. Having broken God's Covenant by turning away from His laws, God promised to make a New Covenant with His people.
God promised that His New Covenant would generously include many free gifts for the people that He loved. Two of those gifts would include God putting a new heart and a new (human) spirit within the believers. [Ezek. 11:19-20, 36:26] God also promised to bless His spiritual children with the indwelling Holy Spirit so they would obey Him. [Ezek. 36:27, 37:14, 24]
To those who would reject God's spiritual gifts, He said, "But as for those whose heart goes after their detestable things and their abominations, I will bring their deeds upon their own heads, says the Lord God." [Eze. 11:21, 18:30] God takes no pleasure in seeing His creations die. He calls each and everyone of them to come to Him to receive a new heart and a new spirit. [Ezek. 18:31-2]
Having said this, when we received the Sacrament of Baptism, by the power of the Holy Spirit, a miracle happened. Being born of the Spirit, we received our new heart and the new (human) spirit that God had promised that He would give us. In case some do not know it, we all have a human spirit within us. A body without a spirit is dead. [Jas. 2:26] In His own Sacred Words, Jesus said, "It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless." [Jn. 6:63] What keeps our body alive is our human spirit.
The first spirit that we received at birth was stained by the original sin. It was called to experience spiritual death, eternal deprivation of the beatific vision of God. To secure our presence in the eternal Kingdom of God, the Lord gave us a new spirit at Baptism so our soul may qualify in the adoption of the children of God. Our old spirit was crucified with Jesus. [Rom. 6:6] It was buried with Jesus. [Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12] We were born again when we received our new spirit that was raised with Jesus. [Rom 6:4; Col. 2:12]
"Those who have been born of God do not sin, because God's seed abides in them; they cannot sin, because they have been born of God." [1 Jn. 3:9] "God protects them, and the evil one does not touch them." [1 Jn. 5:18] "You were raised again so you may walk the newness of life in Christ." [Rom. 6:4] "Your new creation is everything." [Gal. 6:15] By being baptised in the Name of Jesus, we became new creations, spiritual creations. "So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!" [2 Cor. 5:17]
It should be noted here that while our new spiritual form, our spirit of the seed of God cannot sin, through our free will, our consciousness can sin and certainly does sin. Such proof is evident from the inner battle that we suffer. While we are spiritually inclined to do what is good and holy, our physical nature wants to do what is worldly. That is why Saint Paul said, "I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate." [Rom. 7:15]
Over and above having received the new heart and the new spirit, God blessed us with the indwelling Holy Spirit to strengthen us in our Christian life. These were God's gifts to us so we may walk the Christian life as a child of God.
Now, how do we walk the Christian life? As previously said, God gave us a new spirit. This was like a second chance. When we were baptized, we received a new spirit and we were made righteous up to the moment of our Baptism. All our past sins were erased in the eyes of God. Having received a new start, as a child of God, we became obligated to walk in the likeness of Christ and to maintain our ongoing righteousness.
How do we maintain our ongoing righteousness? It is through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist! At the Last Supper, after taking the bread and breaking it, Jesus said, "Take, eat, this is My Body." [Mt. 26:26] Jesus clearly said that the consecrated Bread becomes His physical Body, therefore, He dwelling with us and within us in this world. Afterwards, Jesus said, "Drink from it, all of you, for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." [Mt. 26:27-8]
When Jesus spoke of His Blood, He was telling us that through His death, the spilling of His Sacred Blood, a New Covenant was beginning. The sins previously committed would be forgiven so we would be made righteous in the eyes of God. Through our new creation, the new spirit within us that cannot die because it is of the godly seed, we received a second chance.
In His teachings, Jesus added, "I am the living bread that came down from Heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever..." [Jn. 6:51] Here, Jesus is telling us that to maintain the ongoing righteousness that we have received in the Sacrament of Baptism, we need to continually receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the Living Bread of eternal life, the Body of Christ who is physically manifested in the Holy Eucharist.
To summarize what has already been said, to receive our salvation, we are required to:
(1) have faith in Jesus Christ;
(2) receive the Sacrament of Baptism;
(3) receive the new heart and the new spirit;
(4) receive the indwelling Holy Spirit to guide us in what is holy;
(5) receive the Sacrament of Confession to reinstate the righteousness we received during the Sacrament of Baptism;
(6) receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist to have the life of Christ within us.
(Notation: The writer did not intend to omit that "Man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God." [Mt. 4:4] Such is implied when Catholics attend the celebration of the Mass to receive the Holy Eucharist, at which time they are fed by the Word of God through the Mass readings.)
To be saved and to inherit the Kingdom of God, we need each and everyone of the aforementioned without exception. We also need to live our faith through Christian acts of love and charity in the likeness of Jesus Christ.
May I repeat so none will forget, before receiving the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, we must be in a state of grace. We have to go to Confession before receiving Jesus. Many have become indifferent to the condition of their souls. This is obvious by the fact that while the frequency of people attending to the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist has increased, the attendance to the Sacrament of Confession has drastically decreased.
When we take Jesus in our hands to eat the Bread of Life, we become one with our Creator. It is a tremendous abuse of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist to attempt to receive Jesus in communion while our souls are covered with sin. This is like crucifying Jesus again. If our souls are in a state of sin, the intended union between Jesus and us will not happen. This is why many of the saints went to Confession on a weekly basis and even daily to ensure that they were in the purest state possible before receiving Jesus in their hearts.
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[The readings were taken from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (C) 1989 Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the United States of America.]
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"Moses spoke to the people: 'Remember the long way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, in order to humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commandments. He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
Do not exalt yourself, forgetting the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrible wilderness, an arid wasteland with poisonous snakes and scorpions. He made water flow for you from flint rock, and fed you in the wilderness with manna that your ancestors did not know, to humble you and to test you, and in the end to do you good.'" [Deut. 8:2-3, 14-16]
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"Brothers and sisters: The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ?
Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread." [1 Cor. 10:16-7]
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"Jesus said to the crowds, 'I am the living bread that came down from Heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.'
The people then disputed among themselves, saying, 'How can this man give us his flesh to eat?'
So Jesus said to them, 'Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in them.
Just as the living Father has sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.'
Jesus said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum." [Jn. 6:51-9]
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