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from fathers desk

Dear Friends,

We began this message series five weeks ago, the concept of invitation taking focus. Several episodes in the Gospel express Jesus’ invitation. “Come and follow me,” serves as the core Gospel invitation. Jesus restates it time and again. For example: “Come and you will see,” (Jn 1:39) and so they stayed with him. Or to Simon and Andrew in the boat, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men,” (Mt 4:19). Even the invitation to the wedding feast that arose in our first week (Mt 22:1-14), which concludes “many are invited but few are chosen.” In a certain sense the invitation to follow, to become a disciple, is the heart of the Gospel message. Everything else, our life in Christ, our personal holiness, our christian vocation, follows as a consequence of responding to his initial invitation.

Over these five weeks we have highlighted five aspects of invitation: communion, fulfillment, transformation, glory and (lastly this week) mission. Those aspects might be rearranged or reconfigured. Surely,  they are not mutually exclusive, nor exhaustive. They are deeply connected yet bring before us some key realities of the Christian life. One question to consider: are these many invitations or one? If these elements are connected, can we not see them as a chain, one element connected to another. Or perhaps as dominoes, once the first tile falls the others are not far behind. But the assortment is not linear. The Lord can invite us to conversion in order to invite us into deeper communion, which in turn brings about greater fulfillment. You get the idea…

The heart of this series has been the Bread of Life Discourse. If you haven’t had a chance to enter into this journey of nourishment with Jesus, it is not too late. All along our divine Lord has been leading and guiding the crowds into deeper understanding and belief, in a similar trajectory and process that began with his first followers.

Today we arrive at a crossroads.  Just after Jesus has taught “My flesh is true food and my blood is true drink,” (Jn 6:55) the disciples ponder “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” Notice the word disciples here, meaning those who had chosen to follow earlier. The crowds are those mulling about who have not yet decided. So, Jesus’ teaching unnerves even some of his followers, so much so that “many [of] his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.” So Jesus comes to his inner circle, his closest friends and followers and asks the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Perhaps not as reassuring as Jesus hoped, Peter answers “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” (Jn 6:66-9) Notice how Peter leans on his previous knowledge of the identity of Jesus and less on the immediate eucharistic teaching. He does not say: “It makes perfect sense to me,” or, “we are all aboard, Lord!” It is more that they have a relationship and Jesus has proven faithful, good and wise in the past, so this teaching, while challenging and even off-putting, will be accepted along with the greater whole. Relationship, intimacy, friendship - a personal knowledge of God based on knowing and loving him, not just his teaching, forms the bedrock of faith.

So,  if we are having doubts about the truth of the Eucharist, that God in the person of Jesus, really does give us his flesh and blood to nourish and transform our souls, look to strengthen that bedrock. Begin again spending silence with God. Build that friendship, the intimate relationship of those who spend time sharing life together. Those who only spend a little time with Jesus found the Eucharist too hard to bear, too foreign to accept. Those who had come to know the Lord as the Holy One of God, were prepared - despite lack of perfect understanding - to accept the truth offered.

Each of us is extended an invitation from God, again and again. It begins with our “yes” and concludes with glory and there are many adventures and mysteries along the way. God invites us. It is time to make or renew our commitment to deepen our friendship with him.

May you know the accompaniment of our Lord!
Fr. Wilson