Sunday, August 19, 2012

Kids Will Eat Just About Anything They Put in Their Mouth. So Do We.





"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 bloodHas 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 bloodRemains in me and I in him. 

 There is nothing like a cookout at the end of summer.  The days are hot and sunny and the evenings become cool and a little more crisp.  One of our newest Catholics at our parish invited everyone to come to her house for a picnic.  It was one of those days where I missed breakfast, had a banana for lunch and was hungry for dinner.


 You know those times where you are so hungry you could eat whatever was put in front of you?  As it turned out the food was delicious.  After waiting for others to grab their food I loaded up a plate of pulled pork with a nice apple whiskey barbeque sauce, sausage dip and nachos (I hate when that’s around because I can’t stop eating it), layered salad, baked beans, fresh fruit, and for desert lemon meringue or an caramel pecan apple pie.  I was hungry so I filled the plate… I’m sure some of it was very healthy and some not so healthy, but it was all very good!


 When I got out to the picnic table, one of the mothers, whose baby “Brooklyn” I baptized at the Easter Vigil, said:  “Brooklyn just ate an entire handful of dirt!”  I responded, “What do you mean she ate it?”  I asked: “Couldn’t you get her to spit it out?”  “No” She responded: “I tried, but once she put it in her mouth there was no getting it out!”  “What made her eat a whole handful of dirt?” I asked.   She laughed and said:  “It’s exhausting just trying to keep her from eating things…” 

It’s true for all of us… we have to learn what foods are good and what foods are bad, processed or unprocessed, whole grain, whole wheat, whole oats, high fiber, farm raised, natural, organic… that can be overwhelming too.   

The same is true with our faith life… Many of us if not brought up in the Catholic faith could have easily gone a whole other route in our life… just like Brooklyn we would probably choose indiscriminately never knowing the difference between dirt and dogma, false teaching and authentic faith. 

There are many different religions throughout the world.  According to the CIA Christians make up 33.35%, Muslims 22%, Hindus 13%, Buddhists 7%, Sikhs, Jews, Baha’i and other religions are less than one percent of the world’s population.  Other religions equal 11%, non-religions 9%, and atheists 2%.  Did you know that among the Christian Religions there are over 30,000 denominations?   (The largest percentage is Roman Catholic at 16.83%)
 

That’s a lot to choose from and like Brooklyn’s mom it’s exhausting to figure it all out.
 

The point is… we have a lot of choices.  How seriously have you thought about your faith?  Have you ever asked yourself “Why am I Catholic?”  “Is this really the one true faith?”  “Is Jesus really everything that He says He is?”  “Do I really believe that the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ?”    

These are very important questions because it is a matter of eating dirt and eating true food.  It is ultimately a matter of death and everlasting life.   

C. S. Lewis once said that Jesus is one of three things: So Professor Lewis concluded that neither one of these options is a rational option. In response to the claims of Jesus Christ we have only four alternatives: 

He is a Legend.He is a Liar.He is a Lunatic.He is the Lord. 

"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice.  Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."




We need God to tell us what to eat.. just like Brooklyn, we on our own, don’t know the difference between good and bad, right and wrong, deception and truth.  


When Jesus said I am the Living Bread come down from heaven and unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no life within you,


The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying,"How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"


They thought he was a lunatic or a liar.  However, He was revealing the truth to them.  They didn’t realize they had been eating dirt and he was offering them True Food.  Just as Brooklyn’s mother had to show her not to eat dirt and to eat food, we too must learn and be shown our faith.
 We too must ask ourselves this same question.  “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”  Do you really believe that Jesus is everything that He says He is?  Do you really believe that the bread and wine become His very Body and Blood for us to eat?  Do you believe Jesus is Legend, Lunatic, Liar, or Lord? 


 Some will be blessed to believe in a very simple way with a simple faith.  As we hear in the book of wisdom “Let whoever is simple turn in here.”  Others have to wrestle with this and dig deeply.  “To the one who lacks understanding, she says, come, eat my food, and drink the wine I have mixed!”  You may come to it through prayer, study, reading, dialogue, discernment, programs or events at your parish, listening to talks in your car, reflecting.  “Advance in the way of understanding.”  Others may need to have a conversion experience:  “Forsake foolishness that you may live.”    (Proverbs 9:1-6)  For the Jews this was a “hard saying”.  It will be for many of us as well.


 But before you allow yourself or others you know to “eat dirt”, take a look at what God has revealed to us in Jesus.   Like baby Brooklyn, who was taught by her mother not to eat dirt, Allow yourself the privilege to learn from Mother Church as much as you can about the Scripture and Tradition that Jesus has given to us and continues to teach us within.


 As Saint Paul encourages us:

 “Do not continue in ignorance,But try to understand what is the will of the Lord.And do not get drunk on wine, in which lies debauchery,But be filled with the Spirit”

 We all have to come to the decision in our life of whether or not Jesus is Legend, Lunatic, Liar or Lord. 


 Which is He to you?
  ------


Consider exploring my blog.  On the right side as you scroll down you will find some of my favorite links for learning under the “Online Sacristy.”  Also on the menu at the top of the blog you can click on “Spiritual Reading.”  One book that I highly recommend is Scott Hahn’s “Rome Sweet Home.”  He also has another one on the Eucharist called “The Lamb’s Supper”.   




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