(This homily is geared toward our parish “Growing in Faith Day”. It focuses on the gifts of community, faith and the Eucharist.)
I have recently had two events occur that have allowed a reset in my life. The first was a gift I received for volunteering at Bays Mountain Park. It is a large insulated cup that allows me to now drink water throughout the day rather than automatically turning to soda. The second was a simple suggestion I received from my doctor to try to avoid “white” foods (i.e. potatoes, white bread, white rice, pasta).
These two things may not sound like much but I have been trying to live by them for a couple of weeks now and I can tell that they are having an effect. My energy level is more consistent throughout the day where it was not before, I’m sleeping better and I even think that some weight is starting to come off. I can now pull my belt in another notch!
Sometimes we need resets in life and they do not even have to be big in order to create lasting and beneficial effects and often even a mundane change can have spiritual impact. Now that I am sleeping better and have more consistent energy throughout the day, I am finding that I am actually attentive and praying during my morning holy hour rather than snoozing! This basic and often overlooked connection of the physical and spiritual it witnessed to in today’s first reading when the angel gives the very practical instruction to the prophet Elijah to “get up and eat” in order to have strength for the journey!
Resets are needed in the journey of life – individually and also in the life of community. Today is a bit of a reset for St. Dominic Church. It is not that the parish is not being community nor that faith and worship is lacking but (as with all things in life) we can get running and busy and without even thinking about it not realize that we are not really acting to full healthy capacity and are rather running on fumes. Here is another health tidbit – the second most traded commodity in our world today is coffee and therefore caffeine. What does that say about our world and our lives? Before my reset I was drinking caffeine pretty much all day long but caffeine is a diuretic – it allows a form of energy but it dehydrates at the same time. Sometimes our souls and our faith life can get dehydrated even as we honestly strive to live the life of faith.
Today, the Day of the Bible scheduled for November 3rd and 4th (Fr. James McIlhone will be with us and will talk about the parables in Luke’s gospel) and the other “Growing in Faith Days” we have set for spring are days for our parish as a whole to hear the instruction of the angel to get up, to eat, and to drink in order to be strengthened for the journey. Today we are being nourished in three ways and by three gifts.
Our society is biased toward the individual but here is a truth that we need to be reminded of – the individual needs community. We are nourished by community in a multitude of ways and on a multitude of levels – many of which we are not always even aware of. Yes, community takes work and it requires commitment but the community of faith which is the Church gives back more than it ever requires. It has been noted that Christianity cannot be a spectator sport but neither is it a solo act. We live the journey together. A person cannot be Christian without Church. As we come together today as community in Christ we are nourished.
There is no graduating from learning about and growing in our faith. There is always more to learn, to comprehend and to understand. No caring parent would want a child to stop learning with the conclusion of high school yet so often we are content to think that faith formation ends with the eighteenth birthday! Ridiculous! We are meant to be transformed, “from glory to glory”. Today is an invitation to take another step in understanding our faith and being further transformed in our relationship with Christ, our Lord and Savior. In this we are fed and our deep thirst is met.
“I am the bread of life,” says our Lord, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” The Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ and as we receive the Body and Blood of Christ we, ourselves, are transformed! In the gospel we are told that the people “murmured” about Jesus among themselves. On our own we cannot get there. All we can do is murmur. We need Christ – his grace and his body and blood given in the Eucharist – to make the journey and to ourselves be transformed. Only in the gift of Christ can we move from murmuring into proclaiming by our words and our very lives the Kingdom of God! Every time we gather for Mass the only bread “that comes down from heaven” is offered. May we never fail to receive and be nourished.
May God bless our St. Dominic community and may we listen to the instruction offered by the angel to get up, to eat, to drink and to be once again nourished for the journey!