Let There be no Doubt – He is There!
Friday May 9, 2003 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Third Week of Easter
Reading (Acts 9:1-20) Gospel (St. John 6:52-59)
In the Gospel reading today, Our Lord tells us that unless we eat His flesh and drink His blood, we have no life in us. And He tells us very clearly that His flesh is true food and His blood is true drink and that we have not a choice: Unless you eat of the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. He could not make it any clearer than what He did. And in case there is any necessity of having it backed up (other than the words of Our Lord), what we see in the first reading today when Saul, prior to his conversion, is along the road to Damascus is that Our Lord appears to him and asks him, “Why are you persecuting Me?” Saul is persecuting the Church – Jesus is already in Heaven – the Church is Jesus Christ. And the Church has been given the Holy Spirit to lead Her into all truth, as Our Lord had promised. From the very first century, the Church has proclaimed the reality of the True Presence, the substantial presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. There is no doubt when you read the Fathers of the Church of their absolute and unwavering belief in the Real Presence. There is absolutely no doubt when you just read the little passage that we heard about the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
In fact, in the passage that will be read tomorrow, you will also hear about the people walking away from Jesus. Keep in mind when you hear that, that in every instance where His disciples did not understand what it was that He was saying, He either straightened them out immediately on the situation or He took them off aside by themselves and He explained the situation to them – which He did time after time after time every time that they did not understand. But when it was about the Eucharist and they walked with Him no longer, Jesus did not stop them. He did not tell them that they misunderstood; they understood perfectly well. And He looks at His twelve disciples and asks, “Do you want to leave Me too?” It is clear and it is absolute; we need to understand that.
It is also fascinating when you hear the verses we will be hearing tomorrow that that little verse which says, “They walked with Him no longer,” is John 6:66. Interesting little coincidence, right? 666 is the diabolical number. The fact that it is John 6:66 and it tells us that they walked with Him no longer because they refused to believe in the Blessed Sacrament should tell us something by itself. But then if you listen very carefully, you will also hear the reason why Judas betrayed Jesus. Jesus tells us twice toward the end of John, chapter 6, and it is because Judas refused to believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. He could not accept it. And so Jesus looks at them and says, “Did I not choose twelve of you, and one of you is a devil?” right in the context of the Blessed Sacrament!
It is very clear and it could not be made any more clear for us. All that remains for us is to pray that God will take the scales from our eyes like He did for Saul. Once Saul recognized what was happening, he went out and he began to proclaim Jesus Christ. He went off for three years to learn about the Lord and then was the indomitable apostle for the Lord, willing to suffer anything because he knew the reality of Jesus Christ and he knew the Real Presence of Jesus Christ. If we read 1 Corinthians, chapters 10 and 11, once again there is no doubt that Saint Paul knew and understood well exactly what is going on every time that Mass is celebrated, and he taught that to his converts. It is this point and the reality of the fact that the Church is Jesus Christ and the Blessed Sacrament is Jesus Christ and the priest is Jesus Christ which Saint Paul understood. That is the reality that he lived and that he preached. And that is the reality into which each one of us also has been baptized and which each one of us must accept and live in our lives. The Lord has given us Himself. We need to beg Him to let the scales fall from the eyes of our souls so that when we receive Him in Holy Communion, we will see the reality of the One Whom we receive.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.