My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
As I was saying, these Sundays during these weeks of summer, the readings of the Mass are calling us to reflect on the deep meaning of the Eucharist.
And today, these words that Jesus speaks in today’s Gospel really call my attention:
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.
This is such a beautiful promise — that God comes down from heaven to be our bread, to be our food. He gives himself to us, totally — his Body and Blood, his soul and divinity. And through this bread, God wants to share his own life with us.
It’s amazing when we think about it. And we need to remember that God is our Father and we are his beloved children. And like every good father, God loves his children and he wants to give us what we need to grow and to be happy and to strengthen us for our mission.
So he comes to us each Sunday. Every time the Eucharist is celebrated. And he says to us, as the Angel says to the prophet Elijah in the first reading of today’s Mass: “Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!”
We are on a journey, each one of us. In our own way, we are all on a path of life, trying to follow Jesus. It is not always easy to remember that. Because we all are so busy — we have our jobs, all our responsibilities for the people in our lives.
But we are on that beautiful journey, trying to follow Jesus. But then it is a challenge because sometimes we get discouraged or even burnt out like the prophet Elijah in the first reading of today’s Mass.
We can feel like we are all alone and God has left us.
But what we see is that God does not leave the prophet Elijah alone in his sadness. He never leaves his children alone — not Elijah, and not you, and not me. Never. Even when things are hard for us. When we are feeling like we do not matter to God, he’s there for us. Always there for us.
And it is interesting in that first reading of today’s Mass that the prophet Elijah was hungry in the desert. And my dear brothers and sisters, we need to pray to have that same hunger for God, for his Word and for his teaching; for the Eucharist.
We need to stay hungry for the daily Bread that he comes to give us. Because he alone can satisfy our hearts and give meaning to our lives. So we need to keep coming to him — in the pages of the Gospel, in the bread and wine of the altar.
Because the Eucharist, as we know, is not just any food. With ordinary food, what we eat becomes a part of us, as we know. But with the food of the Eucharist, we become a part of what we eat. As the bread and wine are changed at the altar, when we eat his Body and Blood, we are being changed.
Again, amazing! The Eucharist really must be the center of our Christian lives. Because we see and we believe that God is really present in the Eucharist.
And as we know, the goal of our lives is to try to be like Jesus. And the Eucharist is the way that happens.
St. Paul says in the second reading of today’s Mass:
So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love,
as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us
as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.
This is, again, how much God loves us!
Jesus Christ gives his Body and Blood on the Cross, and again he gives his Body and Blood in every Eucharist. To feed us and to transform us. To make us like him. So my brothers and sisters, we are made for this beautiful transformation, this beautiful sharing in his divine life.
And the food that he gives us does not keep us alive just until our next meal. As Jesus said, “Whoever eats this bread will live forever.” This is the promise that Jesus makes to us today.
What a beautiful gift of love, the Eucharist!
So easy for us just to take it for granted. Going to Sunday Mass, or even receiving Holy Communion. It happens to all of us. It’s a challenge. But I think the meditation, the reflection of this several Sundays on the beauty of the Eucharist is a great help for all of us to really remember that this is different. This is special. And that’s why we have to be eager to go to Mass every Sunday to be with God.
And I wanted to share with you that this past weekend, we had our youth ministry conference that we all it, as you probably know, City of Saints. Los Angeles is the City of the Angels, so it’s good to call our youth conference City of Saints, because we all are called to holiness.
Anyway, we had about 1300 young men and women in attendance from about 80 parishes in the Archdiocese. It’s a beautiful weekend — we have it every year. The first weekend of August, this was the fourth year that we have it.
And we started each year with the celebration of Mass and a procession with the Blessed Sacrament. So I was in the procession with the Monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament and I had all of these young people behind me. Following Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
It was beautiful.
And then Saturday morning they had time for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament for an hour or so. Very special — seeing the young people of the Archdiocese spending time in silence with Jesus. You never think of young people in silence, do you? I mean it’s different.
But it was beautiful just seeing them in prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament! And they really enjoyed it, It was a time of prayer. Feeling that special presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
I have to tell you that their devotion and joy contemplating Jesus — with was beautiful — gave me a lot of hope for the present and future of the Church in the Archdiocese and in the world.
Because they see! They are able to discover and feel the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
So, as a beautiful example for all of us, as we contemplate the importance of Jesus in the Eucharist in our own personal lives.
So, let us try to grow deeper in our love for Jesus and our gratitude for this beautiful gift that he gives us, his flesh for the life of the world.
So I hope that always, and maybe starting with this week, we can find time to go maybe to daily Mass, or maybe spend some time before the Blessed Sacrament, here at our Cathedral. As you know, every Friday we have Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the Blessed Sacrament chapel From 7:30 after the early Mass and then on till 3 in the afternoon. So it’s just a little time to be there by ourselves with Jesus.
And this week, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin May, which is a holy day of obligation. A beautiful time to give thanks to God and to be present share in the Eucharist and thank God for the Mary our Blessed Mother who shows us the way to heaven.
So you can try to make sure that you spend a little more time thinking about Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. And we always have to be really well prepared to receive Jesus in the Eucharist.
And let us ask Mary our Blessed Mother to intercede for us. May she help us to live by the food that Jesus gives us here on earth so that one day we can join her in heaven.
1. Readings: 1 Kings 19:4-8; Ps. 34:2-9; Eph. 4:30-5:2; John 6:41-51.