Hold On to Jesus No Matter What 2019-11-17 Fr. Roberto
Homily for 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C
Fr. Roberto Corral, OP
St. Dominic’s Church, Los Angeles
November 17, 2013
Title: Hold On to Jesus No Matter What
Theme: No matter what, Jesus is present in the Mass and in the Eucharist for you to hold on to.
Readings: Malachi 3:19-20; 2Thessalonians 3:7-12; Luke 21:5-19
About 25 years ago I had the wonderful opportunity to visit the city of Rome for the first time. There were so many beautiful sites and so much culture, history, art…and so much great Italian food! It was truly a fabulous and moving experience. And, do you know what moved me most when I was there? It was not visiting the Vatican or St. Peter’s Basilica or any of the other beautiful churches; it was not the Coliseum or the other ancient Roman ruins; it was not seeing with my own eyes some of the famous works of art or any of the museums. As fascinating and impressive as all those things were, what moved me most was my visit to the catacombs. I got goose bumps as I walked through those underground tunnels and chambers used by Catholic Christians almost 2,000 years ago to celebrate Mass and worship God, to bury and honor their dead and, at times, to escape Roman persecution.
For those early Christians, living out their faith during the first three centuries of the Church’s existence was, at times, very, very dangerous because they could have been arrested, tortured and even killed simply for being Christian or for going to Mass. As I walked through the catacombs I asked myself the question, “How could they have lived like that, with that kind of danger and risk in their lives?” The only answer I could come up with was that their experience of Jesus in their hearts, in the Christian community and in the Mass must have been so profound and important to them that they were willing to risk losing everything, even their very lives.
In today’s Gospel Jesus talks about the destruction of the Jerusalem temple, the end of the world, persecution, judgment and about the need to persevere in faith and have courage in the face of all those things. It’s sounds pretty scary, and I am not sure I know everything Jesus is trying to say in this Gospel, but I think he is basically saying to his disciples, “No matter what happens all around you, even if it seems as if the world is coming to an end, even if you are betrayed by family and friends, know that I am with you. Just hold on to me, and somehow you will make it through.” Well, I don’t know about you all, but I can sure use those reassuring words of Jesus in my life today. “No matter what is happening all around you, know that I am with you. Just hold on to me, and somehow you will make it through.”
Well, I would say that throughout the 2,000 years of our Church’s existence, through all the ups and downs of the centuries, one of the primary ways we Catholic Christians have held on to Jesus – especially in the difficult times; one of the primary ways we have believed that he is really with us is in the Mass and especially in the Eucharist. The Mass is really the heart of our Catholic faith, and the Eucharist is the heart of the Mass. Last week, as I began our preaching series on the Mass, I mentioned that at every Mass we join with the angels, the saints and our deceased loved ones in heaven. I said that it’s as if a door or a channel opens up right here in our church and we join all those heavenly beings as they worship God, and they join us. Today, what I want to tell you is that the main reason the Mass has been so important to us Catholics through all the centuries is because we believe that during the Mass the bread and wine become the actual Body and Blood of Jesus. They continue to look like, smell like, feel like and taste like bread and wine, but they are changed. At the Council of Trent in the 16th century, our Church officially proclaimed what we Catholics have believed from the very beginning: that Jesus is entirely present in the Eucharist: his body, blood, soul and divinity. That means that it is not just a spiritual or symbolical presence of Jesus; he is truly and entirely present in the Eucharist when we celebrate Mass! Amen? Amen!
Now, I think you will all agree with me that the homily of the Mass is important, right? And so are the music and the hospitality. Those things are all important, but the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and the fact that he gives us his body, blood, soul and divinity is the most important part of the Mass! That means that even when the homily is boring, the music is awful and the hospitality is non-existent, Jesus is still 100% present and gives himself to us in the Eucharist! Amen? Amen!
In recent years, there have been a number of surveys taken which show that fewer and fewer Catholics believe in Jesus’ real presence in the Eucharist. This is not only sad, it also goes against an overwhelming wave of consistent Catholic belief, teaching and testimony throughout the centuries going back to Jesus himself. For example, I invite you to turn to page one of your homily reflection guides and look at the first Scripture quote from the Gospel of Matthew at the Last Supper. Notice that Jesus said, “This is my body, this is my blood.” He did not say this is a symbol of my body and blood, or this might be my body and blood, or think of my body and blood when you do this.” The words of Jesus in the original Greek of Matthew’s Gospel as well as in the Gospels of Mark and Luke and St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians on page one are very explicit and definite. There is no other way to interpret or understand these words. Jesus said, “This is my Body; this is my Blood.” And, because Jesus was God at the Last Supper, he had the power to change the bread and wine into his body and blood, right? And because Jesus is still God, he continues to have the power to change the bread and wine into his body and blood through the priest today.
On page two of your guide are other Scriptures referring to the Eucharist which confirm that John the evangelist and Paul the apostle believed in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Then on page three are just a few of countless quotes from later generations of Christians which testify to that same belief, including Martin Luther, the first Protestant reformer in the 16th century. Even though Martin Luther left the Catholic Church and started his own Christian denomination, he did not give up his belief that the Eucharist truly is the Body and Blood of Jesus.
Now, no one can prove that the bread and wine truly become Jesus’ Body and Blood – and no one can disprove it either – but what I can prove, and what I want you to understand today is that, beyond a shadow of a doubt, for 2,000 years, the Catholic Church has believed and taught wholeheartedly and consistently that during the Mass, the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Jesus.
So, my brothers and sisters, Jesus is telling us in today’s Gospel that we need to hold on to him no matter what. Therefore, even though some of our Catholic priests and bishops have committed abuse or covered it up – hold on to Jesus in the Mass and in the Eucharist! Even though some people say that the Catholic Church is old-fashioned and hopelessly out of it – hold on to Jesus in the Mass and in the Eucharist! Even though you might disagree with or struggle with some of the Church’s teachings – hold on to Jesus in the Mass and in the Eucharist! Even though some other Christian denominations, some intellectuals and atheists say that the Eucharist is just bread and wine – hold on to Jesus in the Mass and in the Eucharist! When the world seems to be falling apart, when you are struggling in your life, when things aren’t going your way, when you have wandered off the right path, when you are filled with doubt, fear or anger – hold on to Jesus in the Mass and in the Eucharist! No matter what, my brothers and sisters, Jesus is here for you in the Mass and in the Eucharist. Just hold on to Jesus, and somehow you will make it through.
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