HOMILY FOR THE 19TH SUNDAY IN THE ORDINARY TIME – YEAR B:
Jesus in the reading of last week Sunday, told us that he is the bread of life. And today, he says ‘the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh’ (John 6:51). By linking the bread of life with his flesh, Jesus was alluding to his sacrificial death on the cross, a death by which the Father gives new and eternal life to all those who believe. The Holy Mass which we celebrate each day is a memorial of the sacrificial death of Jesus. On the night before his death, Jesus sealed the new covenant with these words: ‘this is my body…. this is my blood, the blood of the covenant which is poured out for many’ for the forgiveness of sins (Mark 14:22-26). With these words, Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist on the dining table with his disciples on the Holy Thursday. And on the Good Friday, he offered his real flesh and blood through his death on the cross.
Jesus’ love for all of us, was fully manifested at his death on the cross, for he said, “when I am lifted up, I will draw all men to myself”. During his last days on earth, he said this priestly prayer, “Father I pray not only for these [disciples], but for all those who would come to believe through them” (John 17:20). Jesus do not want us to go through the pains and humiliation of Calvary for the sake of our salvation. He therefore died once and for all of us, that we might be saved. He instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist, so that anytime we celebrate it, the redemptive merits of his sacrifice would be made available to us again. And in the words of Saint Paul: ‘whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes again’ (1 Cor. 11:26).
The Holy Mass therefore perpetually makes present for us the sacrificial death of Jesus and its redemptive merits. We must therefore receive the Holy Eucharist in a state of grace. We must follow the advice of Saint Paul in the second reading of today: “Scompaiano da voi ogni asprezza, sdegno, ira, grida e maldicenze con ogni sorta di malignità. Siate invece benevoli gli uni verso gli altri, misericordiosi, perdonandovi a vicenda come Dio ha perdonato a voi in Cristo.” We must allow that same love which made Christ to die for our sake to manifest is our lives and in our relationship with our fellow human beings. And by living our lives as God wants, and through the merits of the death of Christ on the cross, we may inherit God’s kingdom in heaven on the last day.
Fr. Justin Nzekwe