The Gospel this weekend probably is in reverse order in time to that of the story of last week, where the other Apostles told Thomas that “they had, indeed, seen the Lord.” In this week’s story, the ten other Apostles, though they had heard stories of the appearance of the risen Jesus, were just as incredulous when Jesus walked among them as Thomas would be in last week’s version. Jesus invited them to “touch Me and see,” and “He showed them his hands and his feet.” Still, they remained skeptical, thinking they were seeing a ghost, until Jesus took a piece of baked fish He asked for and ate it in front of them. Then they were overjoyed and became true believers. Later, Jesus would say to all of them (including Thomas), “Blessed are they who do not see, but believe!”
For us, who have not seen the Jesus of history but still have Him present in the Holy Eucharist, that question of belief again comes into play. What about those who have received Him early in life but have drifted away from Him now, not receiving Him each week, or seriously offending Him by not even coming to Mass? Do you think that they ever really believed in the first place? Do you think that they believe He could change simple bread into His Body, and wine into His blood? I don’t think so, for if they had, they would be making every effort to be with Him in that special way each week, worshipping Him with all the other sinners, rather than making feeble excuses for skipping Mass and failing to receive the Holy Eucharist. “Blessed are they who do not see, but believe!”
Nearly two thousand years ago, Jesus gathered the disciples whom He loved to share one last meal. It was not just any meal but a meal that celebrated the Passover of the Lord and the freedom of the Israelite people from their slavery in Egypt. Rather than just commemorating this freedom from physical slavery, Our Lord, knowing that the following day He would be the spotless Passover Lamb when He offered His life on the altar of the Cross, changed the script from something that would be familiar to any observant Jew into something altogether different. For He had not come to free us from a physical slavery, but rather to free us from our slavery to sin and death. Therefore, to fortify us with His grace, during the course of that meal Jesus gave those gathered with Him one of His greatest gifts: the gift of His Most Holy Body and Most Precious Blood in the Eucharist.
The late Saint John Paul truly understood this importance of the Eucharist as our point of connection to God. God comes to meet and strengthen us for our lives of faith. Not only was the Eucharist the foundation for Saint John Paul’s life and service to the Church, but he spent a substantive portion of his ministry teaching us about the importance of the Eucharist in our lives. Time and time again, in his writings and teachings, he conveyed that “Only through the Eucharist is it possible to live the heroic virtues of Christianity” and that we “must always be Eucharistic souls in order to be Christians.” May we strive to follow Saint John Paul’s example.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I thank the many volunteers of ministry and service to our parish who joined me in a delicious meal last Tuesday evening honoring their service. During the dinner, we also honored Al and Mignon Attard as this year’s awardees of the “Patron of the Parish,” an award that’s well-deserved for their many ways of serving. I also thank those volunteers who could not be present. May God’s bounteous rewards fall abundantly on them, too.
Thank you, Knights of Columbus, along with the support of our Columbiettes, that put on a successful Pancake Breakfast last week for the benefit of Maryann Passanisi. She is one of the little members of our SVF School family and is courageously battling cancer. The fund-raiser and gifts netted over $4,500 dollars to help her family meet unforeseen and non-covered expenses. Thank you! Please continue to pray for little Maryann. Thanks.
Congratulations to our dear parishioner, Catherine “Sis” Murphy, who celebrated her 100th birthday this past week. May God continue to pour out His blessings on this lovely lady, whose kindness and generosity to our parish knows no bounds!