|From the Bible Illustrations of by Gustave Dore'|
Romans 6:19-23 * Mark 8:1-9
The call we read about today is based on the fact that we are dead to sin, because we entered into Christ’s own death. In the mystery of salvation, Christ died for our sins, the just for the unjust, to reconcile us to God. And
About this very same hope,
This is much more than a Law of commandments. We have the commandments, yes, and we know they have come from God. And, they teach us how to live a righteous life. What the sacrament of baptism has done for us is to give us that other thing that the Law cannot give us, namely grace. The word “grace” is often mistaken simply for “mercy.” Grace is unmerited, yes, because the true meaning of “grace” is gift- from the New Testament Greek word karis, that word from which we get “charisma” or “charismatic”, or “charism.” Charism means gift. “Our creation, preservation and all the blessings of this life” are charisma; they are all gifts. And, our new life in Christ is charisma, that is, a gift. The New Testament ties two things together consistently, and those two things that go hand in hand are charisma and dunamis. That is, grace and power; words that often tell us of the working of the Holy Spirit within the believer just as the Holy Spirit worked with our Lord Himself when He performed his miracles.
This grace that is more than a Law, is more because added to the moral requirement of the Law is the power and grace of the Holy Spirit working within you to live a life worthy of your calling. Not a perfectly sinless life like our Lord lived, no, because although aided with this grace and power, we are yet in our mortal weakness. But, nonetheless this is a life in which we are called to be holy, and given grace and power to become holy; more than a law that tells you to live a holy life, you are lifted to a higher place in which you can “walk in newness of life.” You cannot attain perfection in this life; but you can still walk in the Spirit and experience His working within you, transforming you after the pattern of Christ’s own holiness, just as we look to be transformed after the pattern of His resurrection fully and completely when He comes again to raise the dead and establish everlasting life.
Why are we called to a life of prayer and to the sacramental life within the Church? Because it is in such a sacramental life of prayer, and of hearing the word of the Lord in scripture, that we may be constantly cleansed and renewed in His resurrection life, and where we are aided by keeping the Lord Himself in focus. In baptism we died with Him, and were raised with Him, and therefore, we are in Christ. Your whole identity is established in baptism; no longer part of the dead race called Adam, but of the living Christ, having passed through His death into His life; given grace and power unto holiness. For that is your calling. The Epistles of Paul teach us that the calling of every Christian is the call to become a saint, a holy person. This is the calling of a life marked above all by the virtue of charity, by the holy character of God Himself. Even with the struggles of this world, and the inevitable occasions of failure and sin, the grace given to you empowers you to have this mark of knowing God even now, as we await the fulness of our salvation. The real question is, will you let Him change you? And will I let Him change me?
In the Gospel for today, we see that the people in the wilderness could not feed themselves. In the miracle of the loaves and fishes, in which the Lord once again fulfills the prophecy from Deuteronomy of the prophet like unto Moses, we are taught that He meets our greatest need. The truth is, we all need the food of eternal life, because we cannot keep ourselves alive. The bread they ate that day was miraculous, like the manna in the wilderness that fed the children of
It may seem as if they turned from Him because the idea sounded crazy- and yet, they had to know that He spoke of a spiritual reality. He was telling them that their truest and deepest need is for Him, the One Who is God revealed in our own nature. He took our limited human nature into His unlimited Person, our finite nature into His infinite Being, our time into His eternity, our weakness into His strength, our death into His life. Indeed, we must feed on Him in order to live. Christ Himself, as the Lord God Almighty- one with the Father and the Holy Spirit, tells us “I AM the provision that meets your greatest need. You must feed on Me and live forever.” So we have this Blessed Sacrament, the wonderful mystery of the food and drink of eternal life. We feed on Him in this sacrament; and we feed on Him by His word.
Today’s scriptures are about our salvation. What does our Catechism tell us? It tells us that two of the sacraments are “generally necessary for salvation.” Five sacraments appear in the Old Testament (as I can quite easily demonstrate), but the sacraments of Baptism and the Holy Communion of our Lord’s Supper, are sacraments that impart life eternal and that have been established by Christ Himself when He walked this earth (“sacraments of the Gospel” –Art. XXV). We can speak of the Law of commandments, but
As you hear His word feed on Him by believing. When you come forward this day toward the altar to receive the Blessed Sacrament, feed on Him by taking Him into your very mouth, and so also feed on Him in your hearts by grace and with thanksgiving.