Preparing to Receive the Eucharist

Here is my homily from this past weekend.

Note: the text bellow is only a guide for me I don’t read my homily word for word when I preach, sometimes I will go well off script, but this gives you another way to take in what I preach.

My family loves to entertain guests for dinners and parties.When I was growing up,I remember how much work and preparation would go into these events. My Mom would cook all day fantasticfood, either that day or a day or two before she would go to the grocery store and get everything she needed. For me,I would go with her and help her get the groceries, orI would spend the day at home working around the house to prepare things for our guests. Dad would say go outside and mow the grass and trim. I would blow off the driveway and sidewalk; itwould be a full day preparing for our guests. Even if it was just a small family, or if we had a large party with my parent’s co-workers we have our house looking nice. Having guests was always an enjoyment for me even as an introvert. I love my mom’s cooking, andusually,my friends would come for dinner. If we didn’t spend that time preparing the house, cleaning things up, making the yard look nice, having a tasty meal, people mightnot want to come to our house anymore, or they would get a wrong impression of us.

In the first reading,we hear about Elijah being prepared to make it to Mount Horeb. In the Old Testament,a tripto the mountain usually meant an encounter with God himself. Moses saw God’s back and received the ten commandments. Elijah will go to Mount Horeb and hear the voice of God. His encounter may be familiar to you. There is a massive earthquake, a mighty wind, and a fire, but God didn’t speak through these loud sounds but rather a tiny whisper. In today’s reading, he is struggling to make it to the Mountain where God wants to speak to him. So just like we heard last week, God again feeds him with miraculous bread from heaven. Last Week God fed the Israelites Mana from heaven to help them reach the promise land, this week Elijah is fed with bread to finish his journey to encounter God voice.

Jesus tells us in the Gospel today that we are drawn by the Father to meet the Son. As Catholics, we are blessed that we are called to come and receive Jesus in the Eucharist. Jesus is the bread of life, and just as Elijah heard God in that tiny whisper, we encounter God when we come forward to take the Body and Blood of Christ. As I mentioned last week, the Eucharist is our spiritual food that helps us on our journey. But God too uses bread to prepare us for important moemnts in our own lives.

All of us one day will die and go before God and see him for the first-timeface to face. The Church doesn’t want us to go to see him empty handed. You may have heard of what call the last rites of the Church. Part of this riteis receiving the Eucharist. We call this Viaticum, which means sustenance for the journey. Just like Elijah was given bread on his way to encounter God, we too when we face death  aregiven bread. Jesus himself through the Eucharist will be present with us as we pass from this life, and this will help ease our journey from this world to the next when we encounter God face to face.

We don’t only encounter God at the end of our lives butwe too encounterhim in our daily lives. The Eucharist helps us become more aware of God’s presence in our lives, it helps deepen our prayer andit allows us to have an encounter with Jesus in prayer. Some of the most important decisions I’ve come to in my life, especially with discerning my call to the priesthood beganin the presence of the Eucharist. The Eucharist has prepared me to grow more in love with Jesus in my own life. Jesus’s body and blood is a help for us as we seek to growcloser to him in our own lives.

At those dinner partiesmy family everyone would have to be well prepared. Firstwe needed to save room in our stomachs because we know what my Mom would be filling and very tasty. We would have to dress up nicely, make sure we don’t smell, our hair is carefully combed, things we all do when you are going to an important event. We too should prepare ourselves well to come to Mass on Sunday. We all have our Sunday morning routines that help us get ready for Mass and present ourselves the best we can at Mass. We should also prepare ourselves spiritually for the Mass as well. During the week we can read what the readings will be for the weekend. We can think throughout the week what sins we have struggled with, so we can offer that to God when we call to mind our sins at the beginning of Mass. We can especiallyfocus on being engaged in the sacrifice of the Mass. I admit I sometimeget distracted by what I have to do in 4 hours or the next couple of days, but God wants all of us to be attentive so when we do come forward to receive Jesus in the Eucharist his grace can work through us. As we prepare ourselves to enter into this next part of mass, justtake a few minutesto quietyourselves, to try and let go of any distractions that you may be having. Soon we will have an encounter with God himself, may we be attentive to him and be open to the help he gives us through this great sacrament.

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