MAY 1, 2020

FIRST READING: Acts 9:1-20

PSALM: Psalms 117:1BC, 2

GOSPEL READING: John 6:52-59

SERMON BY: Fr. Raphael Mbendera

THEME: Partaking in the body and blood of Jesus

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today is Friday, first of May and the Catholic Church celebrates the memorial of St. Joseph the Worker. We pray for all workers that the Lord blesses their efforts and that their work should make this world a better home for everyone. Brethren we have been reflecting on Jesus’ discourse on the bread of life.

Today’s Gospel gives us the summit of this discourse on the Bread of Life. In today’s Gospel Jesus makes two claims:

• His person is “bread.” His words are also “bread.” The second claim is deeper and more controversial:

• “Unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you do not have life in you.”

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, how do we understand these claims of Jesus? What is the lesson for us? Firstly, the claims of Jesus are an invitation to us to have a deeper understanding of the Eucharist. In the Holy Eucharist, we are not only nourished by the Word of God but we, in fact, receive Jesus Christ Himself. Every time we attend Mass and go to Holy Communion what we are receiving is not just a piece of consecrated Bread. It is not even a symbol of

God’s presence but He is our Lord Himself, the Second Person of the Trinity, who was born of the Virgin Mary; the same Jesus who truly lived among us, who worked miracles for us and who preached the Kingdom of God; the same Jesus who suffered and died but who rose again from the dead. As Catholics, it is good to reflect on our understanding of the Eucharist. This sacrament invites us to enter into a deeper relationship with Christ. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this reading offers us time to reflect and to rediscover the wonder and gift this Sacrament and so draw from the abundance of graces it makes available to us. Let us never take it for granted. Today let us examine ourselves:

How do I value the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist? Do I avail of its graces as often as possible? How much respect do I give to it? Secondly, the claims of Jesus are an invitation for us to be transformed. To eat Jesus’ flesh and drink his blood is to assimilate totally into our very being the whole way of thinking and acting of Jesus, the very Person of Jesus. To be able to say with Paul, “I live, no, it is not I, but Christ who lives in me.” “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in him.” The presence of the Risen Jesus in the Eucharist transforms us into

His living presence. The first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, recounts the story of the conversion of Saul. He was an ardent persecutor of the followers of Jesus. However, the encounter which Saul had with Jesus transformed him to become an instrument of God in carrying His name to the Gentiles and the whole world. This is the greatest conversion account in the Scriptures. The power of Christ to transform a heart of stone into total service and discipleship is without limitations. A light from heaven, a prophetic voice, and a clear, detailed account of what to do and how to do it sparked Saul’s conversion.

When reflecting on the details of Saul’s conversion, it was very clear to Paul who was calling him, what he was calling him to do, and how he was to accomplish his mission. When we receive the Eucharist we are invited to transform, as did Saul, from sinners to Christ’s disciples. In and through our sharing and participating in the Eucharist, we share in Saul’s conversion and are given the directions we need to follow Christ. While these directions may not be as specific and clear as the ones that Saul received, they invite us to listen and embark on the journey of discipleship in love, fidelity, and commitment.

Dear brothers and Sisters in Christ, when we receive Jesus like today, either through His Word of Eucharist, do we have that same clarity of calling and direction to transform our lives and become Christ’s disciples? Do we experience the light, voice, and clear direction that Saul experienced that transformed his very identity? Do we really allow the Body of Christ to spiritually nourish and transform us? Many of us go to Holy Communion regularly but we never change. There’s no positive behavioral and spiritual transformation that occurs within us.

This is for the reason that we don’t allow the Body of Christ to transform us. One sure sign that the Body of Jesus Christ is transforming us already is when we are able to share and live His teachings. When we are able to forgive those who have hurt us. When we are able to overcome our own sinfulness and our own arrogance and pride.

Today, let us pray that we value the gift of Jesus among us and we be transformed into the kind of people that He wants us to be

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