Sunday, August 2, 2009  The signs of bread and wine, in a way surpassing human understanding, become the Body and Blood of Christ.
Homily, August 2, 2009
Fr. James Albers, O.S.B.

This summer I had the opportunity to be in communication with a gentleman who is in charge of public and organizational relations for the Kansas City Royals. As I was talking to this gentleman he informed me of a Mass at Kaufmann Stadium available to players and employees whenever there is a Saturday home game; the Royals added this opportunity at the request of former Royal Mike Sweeney. So part of this man’s job as director of organizational relations was to have everything prepared for the Mass and stick around to attend to anything that might come up – he himself was not Catholic. Over time, as he was attending these Masses because of his job he began to ask questions of Catholics on the team like Mike Sweeney, John Buck and others about the Catholic faith. It began to have an effect on him, and two years ago at Easter, his entire family became Catholic.

Every day, all over the world, the Mass is offered countless times and in varied places: from great cathedrals to humble churches and even in baseball stadiums. These events of great sacrifice can change lives. Jesus says, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst." Incredible words, yet how often are these words of the Eucharist greeted with indifference; sometimes that indifference is found in our own hearts.

We live in an age of unprecedented development in technology and quality of life, but how far have we come?; how many of us remain indifferent to Christ today just as those who walked with him two-thousand years ago. The gifts are truly abundant, yet we struggle to recognize from where they come. To truly experience change in our lives, and witness that change in the lives of others, we must grow in our knowledge and love of God’s Word and of His real presence in the “living bread that came down from heaven”; and then we must share that faith and knowledge with others; and that is the key.

At the heart of the Eucharistic celebration are the bread and wine that, by the words of Christ and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, become Christ’s Body and Blood. Faithful to the Lord’s command the Church continues to do, in his memory and until his glorious return, what he did on the eve of his Passion: “He took bread...” “He took the cup filled with wine...”; Today as we celebrate this Mass, listen attentively to those words. The signs of bread and wine, in a way surpassing human understanding, become the Body and Blood of Christ. Thus in the Offertory we give thanks to the Creator for bread and wine, fruit of “the work of human hands,” but above all as “fruit of the earth” and “of the vine” – gifts of the Creator. This produce from the earth, from your own hands, and gifts of the Creator, are signs of our daily lives. The labor and toil it took to produce the wheat for the bread and the grapes of the wine are symbols of our own toils we experience in our daily spiritual lives. The offering of what we have a symbol of the abundance God has given us in our daily lives. Yet we not only present the bread and wine as symbols of the successes of our work with in society and within the Church, as symbols of the successes in our families, but we also offer them as symbols of our struggles to remain faithful to Christ, our struggles to sustain our families and our vocations within Christ’s Church, even our struggles to believe that Jesus is that “the bread of life.”In a few minutes we will present the bread and wine as an offering of our very selves to God. They represent our successes and failures, our strengths and weaknesses, and in so offering them we ask that God make all of it holy; that he make us holy. In this Mass we offer our lives and place them on the altar so that in the sacrifice of Christ we might become the one body of Christ. As we grow in our knowledge of the Holy Eucharist, we can grow in our thankfulness each time we encounter this wonder in the Liturgy. It is so easy to grow cold and indifferent toward Christ, so humbly and mysteriously present. When we acknowledge the truth of Christ present we also affirm the reality of grace, the gift of God’s very own divine life, granted undeniably to each of us “blessed to be called to the Supper of the Lamb.” We must continually fan the flame of our faith through every means available so that, drawn to receive our Eucharistic Lord humbly and reverently, we may behold the miracle of our own lives transformed, made holy and happy, by this greatest of gifts.
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