Sermon given by Father Pancras Raja on June 14th, 2020
“A certain man made a great supper and invited many” (Lk. 14: 16)
“My flesh is meat indeed, and my flesh is drink indeed” (Jn. 6: 56 – 59)
In the parable of today’s gospel Our Lord wants to show us his ardent desire to invite all his faithful to approach and partake of the sacred banquet – the Most Holy Eucharist – and to appreciate his love in the Most-holy Sacrament of the altar. And he sends out his servants – the ministers of his Church, to invite the faithful for this sacred banquet.
Many alas! Do not heed this invitation, terribly distracted by the vanities of life – and therefore excuse themselves saying: “I have bought a farm (property) …. And I must go out and see it ….” Others are too much engrossed in human affairs and say: “I have bought five yokes of oxen (gold), and I go to try them ….” And a vast majority of them are carried away by the pleasures of the senses saying: “I have married a wife (woman), and therefore I cannot come!”
Oh, what a heart-rending disappointment it is for the Master who prepared this great banquet!
Yes, we do not appreciate this Eucharistic table greater than that of our earthly needs, bodily food and carnal satisfactions! It is all due to the lack of knowledge on the “loving mystery” of the Most-holy Eucharist! What is that mystery of love?
The loving mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist
The greatest gift of love – given by Our Lord before his death on the cross is his body and blood in the Most Holy Sacrament!
The Eternal wisdom (the second Person of the Most-holy Trinity), to be near to men, and to show them his loving intimacy, in a more touching manner, went so far as to make himself man! And devises an admirable way of dying in our place to save us, and of abiding with us – by the loving mystery of the Most-holy Eucharist.” (St. Alphonse Liguori)
- That his absence from us might not be an occasion of forgetting him, Our dear Saviour did not wish to leave us alone, and therefore he devised a means of remaining with us in the Most holy Eucharist to the end of times; that even here below we may enjoy his sweet company: “ Behold,” he said, “ I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world” (Mt. 28:20). All the saints have found their paradise on earth in this Most Blessed Sacrament!
- Our Lord does not wish merely to dwell exteriorly with men – in the tabernacles or hid himself under a brilliant diamond or other precious monstrances, but he goes so far as to hide himself under the appearances of bread and wine, which are naturally changed into our flesh and blood, so that when they are supernaturally changed into the body and blood of Jesus Christ, he may become the flesh of our flesh and the blood of our blood – to effect real union with men, which is called “COMMUNION”!
The Holy Eucharist is the Bread that comes from our Heavenly Mother.
St. Augustine wrote, “Jesus took His Flesh from the flesh of the Holy Mary.”
Therefore, at every Holy Communion we should feel 0ur Holy Mother’s sweet and mysterious presence, inseparably united with Jesus in the Host. He is Flesh of Her flesh and Blood of Her blood. If Adam could call Eve when she had been taken from his rib, “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” (Gen. 2:23), should we not hear the holy Virgin Mary even more rightly calling Jesus ‘Flesh of my flesh and Blood of my blood”?
St. Thomas Aquinas says: “The intact Virginal flesh of Jesus is the maternal flesh of Mary, and the sacred blood of Jesus is the maternal blood of Mary. Therefore, it will never be possible to separate Jesus from Mary.”
St. Albert the Great writes: “the Queen of Angels has given us what is flesh of her flesh and bone of her bone in the Eucharist, and she continues to give us this sweet, virginal, heavenly banquet.”
St. Peter Julian Eymard, totally devoted to the Holy Eucharist, declared that even in this world, after Jesus’ Ascension into Heaven, the Blessed Virgin “lived a life in and by the Blessed Sacrament;” and thus he liked to call her “Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament.”
Therefore St. Alphonsus Liguori, in his book of devotions, used to always join a visit to the Blessed Virgin Mary to each visit to Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.
In the life of the Dominican friar, St. Hyacinth, we read that once in order to avoid a profanation of the Blessed Sacrament, the Saint hastened to the tabernacle to take out the ciborium containing the sacred Particles, in order to put it in a safer place. When, embracing Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament close to his breast, he was about to leave the altar, he heard a voice coming from the statue of the Blessed Virgin which was next to the altar, saying, “What? Would you take Jesus away without taking me?” The Saint halted in surprise. He understood the message, but he did not know how he could manage to carry Our Lady’s statue too. Puzzled, he drew near the statue to see if he could take it with his one free hand. There was no need to strain himself, for the statue became as light as a feather. There is a precious lesson in this miracle: When we take Mary along with Jesus, she adds absolutely no weight or cost, for in a wonderful way they abide in one another (John 6:57).
For, the Bl. V. Mary with her body and soul is the heavenly tabernacle of God: “And I John saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice from the throne, saying: behold the tabernacle of God with men ….” (Apoc. 21: 2, 3). It is the same as the image often reproduced in monstrances and tabernacles of the last century, which represent the Madonna. Thus, in some of the churches in France the tabernacle used to be encased in a statue of Our Lady of the Assumption.
The significance is quite clear: it is always the Blessed Virgin Mary who gives us Jesus, who is the blessed Fruit of her virginal womb and the Sacred Heart of her Immaculate blood. And She will forever continue to carry Jesus in the Holy Eucharist within her breast so as to present Him for the joyful contemplation of the Saints in Heaven, to whom it is even now given to see His Divine Person in the Eucharistic Species, according to the teaching of the Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas’ Aquinas.
The effects of Holy Communion
Our souls in this life are frequently tempted with food offered by the Evil one – which consists in useless and forbidden pleasures and satisfactions. But against this table of the Devil, Jesus Christ has prepared for our soul and body the food of Angels in the Most Holy Eucharist – which is true and everlasting!
- This Sacrament of Holy Communion produces the grace of spiritual nourishment, by which the soul and body of men are transferred into the likeness of Christ in his glorified state! How?
- By remitting venial sins, The Holy Eucharist repairs the losses which the soul suffers through these sins.
- By uniting the soul with Jesus: it strengthens man with love and affection with Jesus (like a magnet); it delights the soul by exciting actual devotion and fervor.
- By fortifying the soul and body against temptations: by repressing concupiscence and passion; by facilitating the attainment of eternal life. The Holy Eucharist sustains our body and soul in proportion to the “frequency” and “worthiness” of our answer to the invitation to this sacred banquet!
Lesson: The greatest honour and respect due to the loving mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist, therefore, should be manifested by our frequent and worthy reception of Holy Communion – with our devout prayers and genuflections, spiritual communion, and visit to the Blessed Sacrament with visit to the B. V. Mary. Let us always sing as soon as we enter the church, and before leaving it, Addressing Jesus in the tabernacle – together with the Blessed Virgin Mary:
O Sacrament Most Holy!
O Sacrament Divine!
All praise and all thanksgiving!
Be every moment Thine!”