HOMILY & IDEAS

Proverbs 9, 1-6; Eph 5:15-20; John 6:51-58

Here are some stones I have overturned to see what ideas lay underneath. I hope you can grab hold of something, pull -- and discover that it has some homiletic roots for you.

I apologize for the delay of my posting. Last night I traipsed around the hallways of St. Anselm Abbey in Manchester, New Hampshire, (where I am hanging my hat for 24 hours) looking for a friendly, non-digital phone line for my modem. I did not find one, but I did stumble upon some 15th century icons which are now packed in my bags. KIDDING! I finally found found a fax machine this morning -- the phone lines of which are always modem-friendly. A good thing to remember when one hits the digital wall.

Jesus said to the crowds -- I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world. The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat? Jesus said to them, Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.

With Eucharistic Theology, it is very easy to get overwhelmed by the mystery and profundity of transubstiation and the true presence of Christ and experience a feeling of doom when contemplating how this can all preach on a personal, concrete, yet inspiring level. It is important to remember that with the reading at hand, Jesus attempted to keep it very simple for us. As preachers, sometimes it is good to simply respect and embrace the mystery and profundity of it all and continue to keep it simple.

When experienced athletes take refresher-training-workshops, the instructor oftentimes begins with the absolute basics to ensure that the fundamental positionings and postures of the body have not gotten sloppy or lax; for the rest of the physical technique relies upon the absolute basics for excellence and achievement. Perhaps it is enough this weekend to illustrate what is fundamentally communicated and then draw similar parallels.

Here are the simple facts that Jesus communicates: Earthly bread sustains earthly life. It helps us grow. Heavenly bread sustains heavenly (eternal) life. It also helps us grow. Jesus is that heavenly bread. When we ingest it (Him), we enjoy a special intimacy with Jesus. He literally abides in us.

Here is a HOMILY skeleton which can be dressed with some personal facts. WITH EARTHLY FOOD AND DRINK WE LIVE. Outside of self-imposed fasts, or surgery preparation, it is unlikely that any of us have been deprived of food for substantial periods of time. From the day we were born we have been ingesting food each day in order to sustain our earthly lives. We all know what hunger feels like, and we all know what kind of weakness and irritability accompanies that hunger.

WITHOUT EARTHLY FOOD WE DIE. Although starvation and dehydration may not be part of our daily, observable surroundings, we know this is true. We see this fact reported on the nightly news when countries are hit with famine, droughts, and disasters. We see this fact reported when we learn of a person who is trapped in a space from which he can not be rescued in a timely manner.

EARTHLY FOOD HELPS US GROW. There are lots of stories to illustrate this fact in our personal lives: growth spurts, grocery bills from a household of teenage boys, and the intentional high protein intake of bodybuilders to name a few.

EARTHLY FOOD CAN PRODUCE GREAT JOY! We all have favorite foods -- some of which are more nutritional than others; but the fact remains that when we ingest certain foods a kind of intimacy is enjoyed with that food that produces a satisfied, warm glow to our faces.

All of the above facts can be mirrored in the ingestion of Jesus -- our Heavenly food that gives us heavenly (eternal) life. WITH OUR HEAVENLY FOOD WE LIVE FOREVER. Although we will all die an earthly death we will live forever. WITHOUT HEAVENLY FOOD WE DIE. No heavenly food, no eternal life. HEAVENLY FOOD HELPS US GROW. The need for regular, earthly food intake to help us physically grow is paralleled to the need for the regular ingestion of heavenly to help us spiritually grow. HEAVENLY FOOD CAN PRODUCE GREAT JOY! The reception of Jesus -- our heavenly food -- need not be an occasion for solemn, dreary faces. The experience is to be savored and enjoyed. The intimacy with this food can produce the same satisfied, warm glow that earthy food can yield.

Perhaps this is the weekend to keep it simple. If we do not we might find ourselves quarreling saying -- How can this man give us his flesh to eat?

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