Sermon for the Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost – Year B 2015
In the name of the X Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Let’s be honest. There are some parts of the Bible that are difficult to hear. When Jesus told his followers that unless they eat his flesh and drink his blood they have no life in themselves they were confused. The Jews argued among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Up to this point Jesus was comparing himself to the Bread from Heaven, but now he included his blood as necessary for life. This was troublesome to his Jewish audience. The consumption of blood was considered a sin to Israel. What was Jesus trying to say?
Biblical scholars are quick to point out that when Jesus speaks about giving his flesh for the life of the world he is pointing to his death on the cross. The eating of his flesh and the drinking of his blood is unthinkable unless it is understood in light of his bloody passion and crucifixion. Through his body and blood a new covenant is forged and through it we find our salvation.
This is all true but perhaps Jesus said what he said because he intended to be literal and outrageous, blunt and metaphorical. These strong words clearly make reference to the Lord’s Supper, our sacramental meal, where, according to the Book of Common Prayer, the sacrifice of Christ is made present.
In it we are united with Christ. We become one with God and one with one another. A mystical bond is formed… a timeless connection and heritage. We are nourished and thrust out into the world to spread the Kingdom of God. Alexander Schmemann, in his book For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy, wrote that “The liturgy of the Eucharist is best understood as a journey or procession. It is the journey of the Church into the dimension of the Kingdom.”
Three short years ago this chapel was rededicated in solemn prayer and hope that it would become a place of welcome and refuge. Dedicated to God and named for his beloved mother, Our Lady of Guadalupe, we welcome all people from near and far to join the procession. We journey to the heart of God. We take great pleasure in serving our Lord where ever we find him. Many times we find him in the stranger, in the poor and marginalized, in the sick and suffering, in the outcast and fearful. Our journey has taken us through our now annual Stations of the Cross in the City, we have stood by the men and women who serve us as Police Officers and First Responders during the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels, we regularly collect food for our local food bank (A.C.T.I.O.N. Food Pantry) and we have walked with Mary and Joseph during Los Posadas, and learned what it means to be displaced and homeless. Soon the procession will lead us to Covina Park where we plan to do what we can to help feed the hungry.
Why do we do this? Because once you have feasted on the body and blood of Christ, once you abide in Christ, he allows us to be broken; he grants us the privilege of letting his life and love pour through our own. We have learned to humbly say along with Christ, “I am the Bread of life, you who come to me shall not hunger; and who believe in me shall not thirst.” If you are looking for a spiritual home, in need of nourishment that leads to life, and are willing to walk with us a while, you are most welcome. Amen.