This is the homily I preached this morning at Holy Cross Cathedral in Boston for the Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time.
They were scandalized! So much so, that they decided to leave him.
Here was this rabbi, Jesus from Nazareth, and they had been following him for a long time. They heard the Sermon he gave on the hillside by the Sea of Galilee. They saw the time he allegedly raised the little girl from the dead, and heard about the lepers he cleansed. They even heard stories that he was miraculously born of a virgin and there was a star and magi from the East coming to honor him as the Messiah.
But now they were scandalized, and ready to leave him, because of the crazy stuff he was saying.
My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life,
and I will raise him on the last day.
Eating his flesh?! Drinking his Blood!? This was entirely too much for them. And that those who did so would live forever!? Just too much to believe!
So they walked away. As the Gospel tells us, “many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer walked with him.
And then, in one of the saddest moments in the Gospel, Jesus turns to the Twelve Apostles and asks them, ‘What about you? Do you also want to leave?”
Ain’t too much different from today. Here on this Altar, Jesus gives us his Body and Blood to eat and drink, and he still promises that he who eats his Body and drinks his Blood will live forever, and that he who does not eat of this supper will have no life in them.
And at that, many walk-away. Ten percent of those who were baptized as Catholics now identify themselves as no longer Catholic. And of those who still say “they are Catholic,” less than one in five go to Mass every Sunday.
And here you sit, the faithful remnant, the one in five. The ones who believe that the Holy Eucharist and the Mass are the source and the summit of everything worthwhile in life. The ones who long to eat his Body and drink his Blood, not just because you seek after eternal life, but because you seek after the Christ through whom you were made and who will come to judge the living and the dead at the end of time. The ones who have faith in Jesus, who hope in Jesus and who seek to love others as he has loved us.
So all the others run away. And he turns to you and says ‘What about you? Do you also want to leave?”
And you reply: “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.”