In his homily this past Sunday, our pastor, Father Wilson, illustrated how we can all experience the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth through the practice of our Faith. But he went on to say that it requires more than just routine attendance at Mass and simply going through the motions of receiving Holy Communion. Father Wilson warned that those of us who simply go through the motions each week at Mass should not be surprised when our lives are unaffected by this so called practice of our Faith.
In the gospel reading this past Sunday (July 24th), Jesus explains that “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.” The point Jesus makes in this parable is that the things found, i.e., the treasure in the field and the pearl of great price, were being earnestly searched for with great effort. Picture one man digging up a field in search of a treasure, the other toiling and searching through oysters for that one great pearl. And so in the practice of our Faith we must put forth effort to seek the treasure of the Kingdom of Heaven, the Truth, who is Jesus. Do we earnestly seek the Truth? How much effort do we expend seeking and understand His Truth? Do we pray for more faith? Jesus is the Truth! He is the “way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6)! If we don’t participate in Mass and truly believe that Jesus is really present under the appearance of bread and wine in the Eucharist, we gain NOTHING from it (John 6:48-58)! NOTHING! This is the reason so many Catholics have left the Church. It is also the reason why Mass attendance has declined. It is the reason many Catholics will say, ‘I get nothing out of it!’ Multitudes should be crashing the doors to go to Mass if there was a true belief in Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist!
I strayed from the practice of my Catholic Faith for a lengthy period of time in my life. So for years I missed out on so much grace! Without verbalizing it, I too was among those Catholics who doubted Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist. This had to be the case; otherwise I would have put Jesus first in my life and greatly anticipated each and every reception of his very body, blood, soul, and divinity in Holy Communion! We Catholics should long to go to Mass and be healed and nourished through the grace of the sacraments. For me it was a lack of knowing the truth. It was my neglect in seeking the truth. I think that is the case for most Catholics.
As Father Wilson said in his homily, and continues to incorporate into many of his homilies, ‘there is no greater gift we can receive on earth; there is nothing more important in our lives than strengthening our relationship with Christ in the Eucharist and receiving his grace through the sacraments; these are the ways to true and lasting joy!’
My prayer is that Catholics with a lack of knowledge or doubts about their Faith will pray for understanding; will seek the truth through the Magisterial teachings of the Church; and worthily receive Jesus in the Eucharist after returning Home through the healing portal of the sacrament of Reconciliation!