Benedictine University and’s Mark Kurowski reflects on the possibility of God.  Are we all that different than those of Jesus’ town? What do we mean when we say the words we do every Sunday? Listen to this podcast of his reflection for the 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time. Please read John 6:24-35. #GreatCatholicPreaching #Catholic #BenU1887

{mp3}B 50 2012 19 Ord{/mp3}

For Benedictine University and, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 8/12/2012The 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time.

Please pause this audio and read John 6:41-52.

Nothing is impossible for God. (Luke 1.37).

          In the summer of 1994, Patricia Norris went to her United Methodist Church to be taught by her pastor. The subject that day was the United Methodist understanding of the Eucharist. Methodists believe in what is called the real presence. The Real Presence means that they believe that Jesus Christ is present in the Bread and in the Cup at the Eucharist. They do not believe that the bread and wine are transformed into the Body and Blood of Jesus. This is why when the Eucharist is over, the Methodists, like the Lutherans and other mainline Protestants, they do not reserve the Bread in a tabernacle.

          After Patricia’s pastor taught her the meaning of the Eucharist, she looked troubled and raised her hand. “Pastor Mark,” she said in her lovely North Carolina accent, “really? I just always believed that it was the body and blood of Jesus.”

          For Patricia Norris, who is probably taking care of her beautiful grandchild today in Raleigh, nothing is impossible with God.   Why would her Church teach her that there is a limit to the presence of Christ in the meal she held so very dear?

          The Protestant understanding of the Eucharist is clearly influenced by maxims of Enlightenment philosophy which believes that what we cannot perceive through the senses cannot really happen. We can see that there is a confusion in the concept of the Real Presence because, being faithful Christians like they are, Protestants do not want to deny that God can do what God wants to do. They understand that Jesus said in this passage today,

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh (John 6:51).

Clearly, Jesus is saying that we MUST eat his flesh to have eternal life. So, somehow, God transforms the bread and the wine into a form that we can receive because he emptied himself (Phil. 2.7) so that we could be saved. He says, This is my body…this is my blood.

          Ronald Rolheiser, in his book Our One Great Act of Fidelity, says,

Christianity is without doubt the earthiest of all religions. Unlike most other religions, it doesn’t call you out of the physical, out of the body, or out of the world. Rather it tells you that God enters the physical, becomes one with it, blesses it, redeems it, and that there is no reason to escape from it. (p. 25)

          When a junior-high aged girl was told by an angel she would be pregnant and carry God, indeed, God’s son, she was told by the angel Gabriel, “Nothing will be impossible for God.” (Luke 1.37). Do we believe this?

          We ought not be ashamed if we struggle with it. Look at the passage from today. The people who knew Jesus, the people who were the chosen people, the people who were the most attuned to the workings of God, the Jewish people around Jesus in his town, could not fathom what he was saying either. From their point of view God was allowing them to be captive to the Romans for some reason, maybe they had committed some sin as a nation. They were living in a village with a Carpenter and his wife who had a son named Jeshua, Jesus, probably a precocious kid, who knew his Torah. How is it that this kid, the one we have known since he was a “twinkle in his daddy’s eye,” this kid, we knew and who has been in our homes, how is it that this kid is saying to us, “I am the Bread of Life…and he who eats me will live forever?” (John 6.57).

          The answer, Nothing is impossible with God.

          Listen friends, God takes the ordinary, a loaf of bread, for example, and he transforms it as Rolheiser says, “God enters the physical, becomes one with it, blesses it, redeems it, and that there is no reason to escape from it.” In fact, we ought to be running toward it. Why do we think that God is captive to the rules of physics he himself has made? Why is it impossible for God to take the small and insignificant and make it holy? Think about where God has been:

    in a manger where animals eat and relieve themselves,
    in a family where people love, but also bicker,
    in a carpenter’s shop where life is real and sometimes raw,
    in the jail of Pilate,
    in the tomb with death stinking around him,

In each of these places he has become one with the place, blessed the place, and redeems the place. This is the Creator of the Universe. We say every Sunday, in every Christian Church; he is the “maker of heaven and earth, things visible and invisible”. We say, “He came down from heaven.” We say, “He was crucified, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven.” We say, “he is the giver of life.” We say, “we look forward to the resurrection of the dead.”

          What, are we like the people who surrounded Jesus in this passage? Are we like those who murmured that it could not be? Who exactly are we? Are we the cup half empty people who doubt God? Are we the people who come to Church because we can know that God is in a box and we know exactly where he is so that he cannot truly impact our lives? What kind of faith is that?

          Nothing is impossible for God.

          No. We are not doubting people. We are believing people. We believe that if God wants to move mountains, he will. If God wants to part a sea, heal the sick, raise the dead, make my boss give me a raise, clear my mind of depression, inspire me to sell all I have and give it to the poor, make me go door to door inviting people to my church because I love them, or cause us to give 10 percent of our income to God, or make me stand up and tell others how much I love God, whatever it is, if God wants it, we who believe in him will do it and be empowered to do it. Do we say, “Oh, no. That is not possible with God?” No. We don’t say that. We say, “Yes! Yes, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Yes! You are the bread of life and I rejoice that you are going to transform me today by entering into my body in the Bread and in the Wine that is truly your Body and Blood.”

          We are going to say, “Not only do I believe you will enter into me, but that you will transform my body to be holy, to do holy things, to treat others in a holy way. I believe that you will make me, loving, joyful, peaceful, patience, kind, gentle and give me self-control. I believe that you will enter into my body and change me spiritual AND physically to be free to not act out sinful urges in my body, but to make me holy like you,” because, I want to be holy just like you. I want to go where you lead me to. With reckless abandon to your truth, I want to fall deeper in love with you, Jesus.

          Because nothing is impossible for God, he has made the Way, the Truth and the Light available to us in the Bread and the Wine. He has emptied himself of his power and pretense and come to us in the ordinary, the plain, and the uneventful to the naked eye, Bread and Cup. So, all you Patricia Norris’ out there, yes this is the Bread of Life, with which you will be raised up on the last day. Amen? Amen.

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