In the first real homily that I ever wrote I started with a question: “why are you here?” Seriously ask yourself that… “why am I here?”… and I’m sure that the more you ponder that question the more reasons you start to have. At least for myself, the first gut response I have is that I’m here because a schedule had my name down to preside this mass and all of you would turn into an angry mob if I wasn’t here. With a little more reflection I can say in a larger since that I’m here because the bishop said, “go to St. Ambrose”. But I can say, too, in a more meaningful way that I’m here because my parents brought me to mass my entire childhood and taught me that it was important, and the older I got the more I began to see and understand the truth of how essential this moment before the altar really is. In that sense I’m here because I know that God is here, and I want to be with Him and to know Him better. My point is that there are many, many reasons that brought all of us to this moment right now and all the Sundays to follow. Some of them are practical, some of them are spiritual, some of them are perhaps better or closer to the ideal, while others are simply good enough for the time being.
And Jesus is ok with that.
In this Gospel Jesus is sought out by a the crowd and he examines their motivation, he examines why they are there before him. He knows and he points out to the crowd that they are there for basic reasons far less than the ideal. They were there because he gave them food. They hadn’t made the connection that he was doing signs so that they might believe he was the Son of Man, and so forth and so on. They wanted food. Jesus takes that basic motivation and he doesn’t reject them or turn them away! He takes their desire food and essentially says to them, “There is a greater hunger that I can fulfill in you. You come to me for food and I will give you the bread of life. I will give you my very self so that the Father may set His seal upon you for eternal life.”
So why are you here? If you come for a moment of peace and reflection in the middle of a busy week, Christ says to raise that longing to seeking out an enduring peace beyond all understanding. If you come here to honor your faith and because you know that you have an obligation to be here, Christ says to raise that intention to a desire for a heart that burns with an indescribable joy in what we believe. If you come here for healing in a life that has suffered much, Christ says to raise that hope into knowing salvation itself through his suffering.
Be always mindful of why you come to this altar and be bold in asking God for His presence. The crowd came to Jesus wanting food and he said he would give them the Bread of Life. That very Bread of Life is what we are about to receive. God wants to be in our life in an incredible way, so we must learn to respond with that same intensity. God will lead you along. He will take the longings of your heart and raise them up to Himself, step-by-step, so long as you keep following him, keep dwelling on his word in your heart.
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Homilies are meant to be heard, not read… and part of the Eucharistic liturgy, not words that stand alone. Please remember that no homily is written with this blog in mind.