Homily from the 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year A
There are a number of motifs in Salvation History, the story our being saved by God; recurring themes such as the fall and redemption, the many becoming the one and self-sacrificial love.
In today’s Gospel we hear another motif from Salvation History. It’s a motif that is repeated at the Last Supper. And it’s a motif that is repeated every single time we come to celebrate the Eucharist at Mass. This particular motif is a four-step process. It’s what Jesus does to the bread; a four-fold action: Jesus takes, blesses, breaks and gives.
This miracle of the multiplication of loaves and fishes is the only miracle that is recorded in all four of the Gospels. It's a very important miracle. Important because it points to the same thing Jesus will do to the bread at the Last Supper. It’s what Jesus will do to the bread when he eats with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. It’s what Jesus will do to the bread in a few moments when the bread is changed into His body on this altar. Jesus takes, blesses, breaks and gives.
And it’s what Jesus does to you and I in our lives of continual conversion in Him. Jesus takes you, he blesses you, he breaks you and he gives you.
Jesus takes you. Another way of saying this is that Jesus chooses you. Think about that for a moment, Jesus chooses you! Jesus says, “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you.” (Jn 15:16). Perhaps that’s a difficult thing for us to understand sometimes.
God chooses me? Yes. God loves you. Remember what Fr. David Mary said at our parish mission? He reflected on Jesus’ words at the Last Supper in the Gospel of John when Jesus said to His Father: “You loved them even as you love me.”
St. Peter says, “you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own.” (I Peter 2:9). St. Paul says, “he chose us in [Christ], before the foundation of the world.” (Eph 4:1).
Jesus takes you. He chooses you.
Jesus blesses you. Another word for bless is benediction. For example, at the end of Eucharistic Adoration you receive the Benediction when the sign of the Cross is made over you with the Eucharist in the monstrance. It’s a blessing. Benediction is a word of Latin origin. It’s actually two Latin words put together. “Bene” means “good” and “dictus” means “say.” So “bene dictus” or “benediction” means "to say good." To say good things about someone. To speak well of them.
God speaks well of you. He says good things about you. In Psalm 139 He says you “are fearfully and wonderfully made.” In Psalm 17 He says you “are the apple of His eye.” In Deuteronomy He says you are “His treasured possession” Jesus says you are not slaves but “His friends” (Jn 15:15). And again and again throughout scripture you are called beloved sons and daughters of God.
Jesus blesses you.
Jesus breaks you. This is a hard one to accept sometimes. But the truth is, unless Jesus breaks the bread, He cannot give it to so many. In order for us to be gift, we have to be broken. We are broken in that we all fall, we all sin. But we’re also broken in the sense that Jesus breaks us. He breaks us of our sin. A simple illustration is one that every athlete knows: “No pain, no gain.”
Jesus breaks you.
Jesus gives you. I want you all to know something, but especially you teens. Some of you, those of you who are married, already know this. But I want those of you who await marriage to know that you are the greatest gift someone in this world will ever receive. God has created you to be a gift to your future spouse. Or if you’re called to be a priest or religious, to be a gift to Christ and His Church. Or if you’re called to be a generous single person to be a gift for the building up of the Kingdom of God.
Jesus gives you.
In a few moments, we will see this same four-fold action, this same four-fold action unfold in front of our very eyes. And as you watch those actions and hear those words, I want you to envision Him doing the same in your lives.
As bread and wine are taken and placed upon the altar, envision Jesus taking your lives, choosing you, claiming you for his own and offering you up to His Father.
As the blessing is said over the gifts of bread and wine and as the Holy Spirit is called upon to change them into the Body and Blood of Christ, envision Jesus calling the Holy Spirit upon you and to bless you and transform you into Christ's likeness.
As Jesus allows His own Body to be broken on this altar as it was on Calvary, envision Jesus breaking you free from the chains of sin.
And as Jesus gives Himself over to you in Holy Communion, envision Him giving you to your future spouse or your current spouse, your family or your vocation.
Each and every time you come to Mass, as you watch bread be taken, blessed, broken and given, you are watching Jesus be taken, blessed, broken and given, and you yourselves are taken, blessed, broken and given.