Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Over the next few weeks, the Sunday Gospel from St. John will primarily focus on the gift of the Holy Eucharist. This week we encounter people searching for Jesus. Why? Jesus points out to them that they are only searching for him because they were fed by him. The people want another sign so they can believe. Jesus points to himself as the sign of the living bread of life that satisfies all hunger. As we will see in the coming weeks, this will be difficult to understand or to accept and many in the crowd will go back to their former way of life.

As Catholics we come before the Eucharistic presence not to see a sign. We come humbling ourselves before God, and God wants to provide us with food for the journey. Jesus, under the Eucharistic species of bread and wine, invites us to be nourished with his grace and love. He is not a sign but the true presence of God. For he is consubstantial with the Father and is true God and man. We profess this in the Nicene Creed. The depth of this mystery has brought peace and joy to the faithful for generations. Many saints have shared their inmost experiences with his presence through their writings and exhortation. The Church invites us to receive him often.

How do we share the joy of receiving the true bread of life? Do we? I’ve heard people speak to not attending Mass because “I don’t get anything out of it.” Mass is not about us but rather about worshiping a God who offers himself as a free life-giving gift. Why don’t people know about the joy of receiving the Eucharist? I have two answers to this question.

First, as followers that truly believe in the true presence of Jesus under the form of bread and wine, we are not witnessing to the peace and joy that is present. Many priests, ministers, and lay faithful simply go through the motions when celebrating or participating in Mass. We at times are more concerned about getting the “check mark” of attending than being transformed into His likeness.

Secondly, as Jesus alluded to in the Gospel, the crowd looks for signs to experience peace and joy. Our culture has distorted the understanding of peace and joy. It encourages us to look to the world for immediate gratification and happiness. It distracts us from knowing the depth of the love of God by offering its own fleeting experiences and superficial signs of peace and joy. Such experiences require minimal work on our part to realize, and is unlike the transformational presence of the Eucharist, which requires commitment, humility, forgiveness, self-sacrifice, perseverance.

Let us meditate on these Eucharistic Gospels with the goal of understanding his mystical presence and what he offers us in a new and unique way. By doing the work, may we become better witnesses of the peace and joy provided by Jesus and inspire in others a return to the real presence.

As August begins, we recognize that the pandemic is still with us. A few people have inquired about the updated mask recommendations that the CDC has put forth. At this point in time, the Diocese has not changed any of its current protocols for church functions, which include celebration of Mass. I encourage everyone to use best personal discernment and proper heath care procedures to keep you and those around you safe. Let us respect each other’s space and personal privacy.

Also, this month will be the last month for our online livestreamed and recorded Sunday Mass. Both parishes have benefited from the generosity of Bill Trentel’s time and talent in recording and editing our Masses throughout this pandemic. There are many opportunities for virtual participation of Sunday Mass.

Thank you for your prayers this week as I underwent the second (and hopefully final) surgery in my cancer treatment. All went well and I was released from the hospital a day early. (For good behavior.) I will be convalescing at the St. Clement Rectory.

One final reminder: our annual mission appeal is next weekend. Please be generous as we reach out to the missionaries who serve in Haiti. A second collection will be taken at Mass and other donations can be mailed or dropped off at the parish office. Please mark MISSION APPEAL on these donations.

May the transforming presence of the Eucharist show radiance through our lives this week.

Christ’s Abiding Peace!
Fr. Workman