daily biblical sermons


THE EUCHARIST AND OUR NEW LIFE IN CHRIST
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Sunday, 19th Sunday of the Year, August 09, 2015
1 Kings 19:4-8, Ps. 33, Eph. 4:30-5:2, John 6:41-51


Scripture quotations are from the RSV unless otherwise noted.

 

"I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh" (John 6:51).


Jesus gives us his own flesh to eat in the Eucharist. Jesus' body contains his divine person with his divine and human natures. Jesus sacramentalizes his flesh, containing his divinity, in the form of bread, and his blood in the form of wine so that we may offer them with him to the Father in the Holy Spirit for the glory of God and the salvation of the world. This offering is the unrepeatable sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross for the salvation of the world, made present for us for our salvation.


Then, after offering this sacrifice with him to the Father, we receive Holy Communion. We eat Christ's flesh and drink his blood, sacramentalized as bread and wine, for the life of our spirit. If we eat his body, we will live forever. "If any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever" (John 6:51). We will have eternal life within us. By eating his sacramentalized body and drinking his sacramentalized blood, under the form of bread and wine, we take into our body and spirit the divine person of Jesus Christ with his divine nature, which is contained in his sacramentalized humanity.


Thus his divinity, contained in his humanity, enters into our humanity to divinize us, to fill us with Christ's own divinity, his divine person and nature. This illuminates us from within and transforms us in Christ. We grow daily by daily receiving Holy Communion, being in this way ever more transformed in Christ, ever more divinized, ever more illuminated from within by his divinity in our humanity.


St. Paul tells us today that "Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God" (Eph. 5:2). This is the sacrifice of Christ on the cross that saved, forgave, and justified us. It reconciled us with God by making reparation for our sins. Our faith applies this reparation to us. This very sacrifice is made present for us in the Mass so that we might be justified and saved by it.


Our sins are put on Christ, and his righteousness is reckoned to us. "For our sake he [God] made him [Christ] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor. 5:21). He became sin by our sins being placed upon him; and we become the righteousness of God by his suffering for our sins to make reparation for them, and then by his reckoning us as righteous because of our faith, just as "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness" (Rom. 4:3), that is, because of his faith, Abraham was reckoned to be righteous.


Then in Holy Communion we further deepen our union with Christ by receiving his divinity physically and sacramentally into our body and spirit for our divinization, illumination, and progressive transformation in Christ. The Eucharist, which we eat and drink, becomes our food for the life of our spirit.


All of this is God's free gift to us. Our part is only to receive it by faith, which is our faculty for receiving. We do not earn it in any way. But once we receive this gift through faith, apart from works (Rom. 3:21; Gal. 2:16), we must then begin to live in a new way as a new creature, a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15; Rev. 21:5), a new man (Eph. 4:22-24). We are to begin to live a new life in Christ for the love of God.


But what is the motive for which we now do good works and live a new and holy life? It is not to earn salvation, justification, and forgiveness for our sins, for that we have already received as a free gift through faith, which is simply our receiving faculty. Our motive is the love of God for what he has done for us in saving, forgiving, and justifying us.


So we now want to live completely for him, for him alone in all we do. We want to love him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30). We want to love and serve him with an undivided heart. We want to serve him as our only master, because he taught us that no one can serve two masters, God and mammon (Matt. 6:24). Indeed "he died for all, that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised" (2 Cor. 5:15).


By living in this new way we will, over time, assimilate more and more the new man that Christ has created us to be. We will become ever more transformed in Christ, ever more completely new men, new creatures, a new creation in Christ. We will ever more be what we are. We will ever more be what Christ has made us to be by his death and resurrection. We will ever more be what we daily receive in Holy Communion.


And how do we live this new life? We live it by living in simplicity and evangelical poverty in all we do. We live it by living only for Christ. Such a life is the fruit, not the cause, of what God has done for us in Christ through our faith, "apart from law" (Rom. 3:21), that is, apart from any good works on our part to earn this salvation, forgiveness, and justification. That is why I say that our new way of life is the fruit of Christ's justifying us by faith apart from works. Such a new way of life is the necessary visible evidence that we really do have justifying faith and really have been justified.


Furthermore, this new and holy way of life is the way whereby we grow progressively in holiness. It is the way of sanctification, making us ever more resplendent in God's sight.


We live this new life by seeking all our delight in the Lord, rather than dissipating the love of our heart in worldly pleasures. We want to find all our delight in him. We do not want to be obsessed by the beauty of creation and creatures. We do not want the love of God's creatures to divide our heart. We want our heart to be undividedly focused in love on God alone, and on our neighbor as our means of loving God.


Married people do this together as a couple, devoting themselves completely to God and living in simplicity, renouncing distracting worldly pleasures. Celibates do this in a still more radical, literal, and complete way, renouncing even the love of a Christian spouse, in order to focus all the love of their heart on God alone and his service. They are in love only with God, and they love their neighbor as a means of loving God. This new way of life is the result of justification by Christ. It is the fruit, not the cause, of our justification, forgiveness, and salvation by faith, apart from works, because of the death of Christ on the cross in reparation for our sins.

 

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