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Sunday, June 26, 2011
Homily for Corpus Christi: The Two Wolves
One evening, an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.
He said, "My son, the battle is between two 'wolves' inside us all. One is Evil - It is anger, envy, jealousy, greed, and arrogance. The other is Good - It is peace, love, hope, humility, compassion, and faith."
The grandson thought about this for a while and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf wins?"
To which the old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."
If we want the good wolf to win we must feed it and starve the bad wolf. Most of us are very familiar with feeding, but starving is something unfamiliar to us. We are pretty content. But in order to feed our virtues we must starve our vices.
Moses said to the people:
"Remember how for forty years now the LORD, your God,
has directed all your journeying in the desert,
so as to test you by affliction
and find out whether or not it was your intention
to keep his commandments.
He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger,
and then fed you with manna,
a food unknown to you and your fathers,
in order to show you that not by bread alone does one live,
but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD
The Lord, God let them be afflicted with hunger before he fed them with manna. So it is with us, we often need to experience some hunger before we can really appreciate the goodness of being fed.
Sometimes people come to mass and say "I'm not being fed." I wonder if they are really hungry. On this feast of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) we remember that Jesus is really here in the Eucharist. We are fed, not with mere bread and wine, but with His very Body and Blood. How can anyone receive Him and say "I'm not being fed." Maybe because they are not really hungry.
Let me explain. The church tradition has always had a time of fasting before mass. It used to be a long period of time over night and now it is simply one hour. How seriously do we take this period of fasting? I wonder if we shouldn’t just fast from food, but also from all of the other stimulants that we use… TV, Internet, Cell Phones, Facebook. Maybe we should fast from all this before mass as well so that our minds can become quiet. At the very least, fast from food. Do we allow ourselves to really feel some physical hunger that we may experience some spiritual hunger?
We can also not feel hungry when we are feeding the "Bad Wolf". The church has also taught that receiving the Eucharist is such a sacred act that it can only be received by those in the state of grace. In the olden days it was known as a sacrilege to receive the Eucharist unworthily. Are we coming forward to eat the Body and Blood of Jesus when we have a serious sin in our lives? If so, we will not be fed. We must starve ourselves of whatever we are receiving in that sin, experience the grace of Confession, and allow that "Bad Wolf" to starve and die before we can feed the "Good Wolf".
In order for us to really be "fed" here at the altar we must come hungry. Are you hungry for Jesus? Do you fast before mass? Are you in the state of grace to receive communion? Are you allowing yourself to feel the hunger pains of starving the "Bad Wolf?" Are you feeding the "Good Wolf?"
In the Eucharist we are indeed “Fed.” Jesus said to the Jewish crowds:
"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 Jews quarreled among themselves, saying,
"How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
Jesus said to them,
"Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you do not have life within you.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
has eternal life,
and I will raise him on the last day.
For my flesh is true food,
and my blood is true drink.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
remains in me and I in him.
First, starve the Bad Wolf, as Moses reminded the people that the Lord allowed them to be afflicted with hunger, and come forward to feed the Good Wolf, allow yourself to be fed with the manna as you receive the Sacred Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus. There is a battle going on within us between good and evil. Which wolf will win?
Whichever one you feed.