Aug 18, 2018

Beauty and the Beast

The very moment we come into this world, we need to be fed, we want to be fed. This is our natural state. We are always hungry. We need to eat. In fact, we are told that the word for “mother” in all its various languages throughout the world comes from, is actually coined from the lips of babies reaching out with their lips for nourishment, hence the “m” sound is prominent in "mother" in every language. The need to be fed comes naturally to each of us.


If you could, like a newborn baby craving something to eat, reach your hands into heaven to grasp the substance that feeds the soul, what would it be? Not bread that feeds only the stomach or memories that fills the mind or a feeling of warmth to the heart? No. The substance of heaven is not symbolic, it is not a memory but the real-life resurrected and perfected human body of Christ, his very flesh and blood, his soul, his divinity - the heavenly glorified Jesus Christ.  


Just as we naturally crave to be fed physically with food, our mind with knowledge, and our hearts with relationships, our supernatural soul too is hungry, is restless - unsatisfied until it is fed by God, nourished by the substance of heaven.


When those who first heard Christ speak about having to eat his flesh and drink his blood, they naturally heard his words through their natural senses alone (John 6: 51-58).They did not hear them, as the writer of the Gospel did, spoken through the resurrected and heavenly Christ, whose own physical body had now “evolved” into a glorified state of existence.   


This should remind us that unlike purely spiritual beings, every part of our natural flesh and blood is infused with the heavenly dignity of a soul. That is why heavenly angels stand back and look upon our physical form with wonder and awe. That is also why the devil and his angels look upon us with envy, jealousy and in particular, with lust.


My dear friends, we all hunger, body, and soul, for Holy Communion with God. But what happens when our hunger is misplaced? This is a profound and grievous danger to clergy who are entrusted with feeding the flock in general and those in a position of church leadership in particular.


Psalm 33 (34): 2-3, 10-15 reminds us, “Revere the Lord, you his saints, they lack nothing, those who revere him”. It is a reminder that clergy must always find their own hunger satisfied completely in their vocation and ministry to give their lives with all reverence to God.


If they don’t, the next line of the Psalm reminds us that “strong lions suffer want and go hungry”. In other words, if hunger is misplaced, how easy it is to use and abuse one’s power, position and strength, and like that savage beast, spoken in the Psalm, to prey upon the vulnerable. Such an animal, like a lion prowling about looking for someone to devour (c.f. 1Pt.5:8ff), needs to be enclosed, in a cage, behind bars. And anyone who lets it out, or thinks that by putting a leash on its collar, that the vulnerable will be safe, they should be held accountable for their irresponsibility.


That is why we are all duty bound to tend to the deep wounds of those who have survived the savage and unnatural hunger of any predator, particularly at the hands of wolves in lamb’s clothing.   


St. Paul in our Second reading (Eph 5:15-20), reminds us all to be careful about the sort of lives we lead and that we do in fact live in “a wicked age”. But he reminds us also that we can redeem it, not by overindulging our bodily appetites, even with anger and rage that will blind us to God’s will. He tells us to raise up our minds, our voices, our bodies, and souls always in thanksgiving to our heavenly Father. Such a Sacrifice of Thanksgiving is, of course, the Holy Eucharist before us, Christ the Bread of Angels.


If we are to bring salvation to the substance of this fallen world, first let our own soul’s delight be in the taste of the substance of heaven, Christ’s heavenly flesh and blood. May he then give substance to our own good works to bring the Good Shepherd’s healing to those abused by the wolf and the robber of souls. 

May Mary our mother, who nourished her divine child with her own milk, and stood at the cross of her son, give us comfort and consolation in this time of dark testing in a world always hungry for God.

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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