Homily from the 20th Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year B
A couple of weeks ago, I arrived at the church to get ready to celebrate a weekday morning Mass. It was 7:30. As soon as I got out of the car, I heard three young voices shout out, “Fr. Andrew! Fr. Andrew!” It was three of our high school students, young ladies, who came running up to me. I thought to myself, “What’s wrong now.” They said, “Father, we just came from the Perpetual Adoration Chapel at St. Jude’s. We’ve been there since midnight.” They had spent the night in adoration before the Lord. One of them said, “I didn’t know I could pray that long!”
In the Gospel today, Jesus tells the people that unless they eat his flesh and drink his blood, they do not have life within them. And the Gospel begins with an objection by some of the people who hear these words. They cannot believe that he would say something as graphic as “eat my flesh and drink my blood.” They ask, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
And Jesus responds by assuring them again, and again, and again, and again that he meant what he said: “eat my flesh and drink my blood.” In fact, he reiterates it five more times. He goes so far as to use a word that is even more graphic than eat. In the original language the Gospels were written in, the typical word for eat is the word “phago.” However, when Jesus says, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life” the word he uses instead of “phago” is “trogo” which means “gnaw,” “chew,” or “munch” Imagine if we had heard Jesus say in today’s Gospel “He who gnaws, chews, or munches of my flesh... has eternal life.” But that is precisely what he is saying.
Jesus is telling us that the eternal life he wishes to dispense to us, truly comes through munching on his body and blood through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. And at the same time, I would propose that this gnawing, chewing and munching on Jesus is something that must extend after our consumption of the Blessed Sacrament.
Have you ever given a dog a bone? What does the dog do? It lays down on the floor, clutching the bone as best he can in his paws, and he gnaws, chews, and munches on the bone for hours and hours. The dog is consumed, obsessed and fascinated with the bone and nothing else around them matters. Perhaps thats how those three girls felt as they gnawed, chewed and munched on Jesus for hours and hours in adoration.
That’s the effect, gnawing, chewing, and munching on the Sacrament of the Eucharist should have on our lives. We should then continue to gnaw, chew and munch on the person of Jesus Christ in our every affair. In every moral decision we have to make. In every friendship and relationship we engage in. In every thought, word, and deed that comes forth from our mind, lips and actions. So, let us gnaw, chew and munch on the Lord in this Sacrament and in every moment of our lives.