Catholic in Yanchep

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8th Sunday, Year A | The depressed person’s guide to escaping from dark times

our-lady-of-walsingham-and-english-saints

Our Lady of Walsingham and English Saints, mural, hall outside Slipper Chapel Shrine, Walsingham. Photo by Norman Servais.

This planet has—or rather had—a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much all of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movement of small green pieces of paper, which was odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.  Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Whenever today’s Gospel reading comes up it takes me back to 1991.  This was the year my beloved father died and my daughter was born.  We had taken the decision that I would be a full time Mum some years earlier with the birth of my first child, so making ends meet was difficult, since my husband was in the process of building up his own business, with every spare cent being reinvested back into the business and Australia still suffering a loss of confidence following the 1987 share market crash.  But after Elinor’s birth, life was further complicated by my developing post-natal depression.

The winter of 1991 was probably a perfectly ordinary winter, as winter’s go, but inside my head, the landscape was bleak and, at times, terrifying.  It seemed to rain constantly so that I spent much of the time cooped up indoors with a two year old and an infant, and no support family within two thousand kilometres.  Odd things happened, like the Water Corporation invading the park behind our house to fix a sewerage problem, and the whole neighbourhood being filled with noxious odours for days on end, adding to my general feeling of malaise.  Then I had a great fear that I was going to develop a mental condition that was present in my extended family.  And of course I was grieving for my Father who had wasted away over five years until every breath was a struggle.

But God uses these moments of interior misery to bring us back to him. The children and I had joined the local playgroup which was run by some of the young mums from the Neo-Catechumenate group.  On one particular day, when our bank account was down to about $3 and I was wondering how we were going to manage until payday, the ‘Neocats’ invited me round for some Italian macchinetta-brewed coffee as well as prayer round their kitchen table.  By chance, their Bible reading for the day was this:

‘That is why I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and how you are to clothe it. Surely life means more than food, and the body more than clothing! Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they are? Can any of you, for all his worrying, add one single cubit to his span of life? And why worry about clothing? Think of the flowers growing in the fields; they never have to work or spin; yet I assure you that not even Solomon in all his regalia was robed like one of these.

  Now if that is how God clothes the grass in the field which is there today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, will he not much more look after you, you men of little faith?

  So do not worry, do not say, “What are we to eat? What are we to drink? How are we to be clothed?” It is the pagans who set their hearts on all these things. Your heavenly Father knows you need them all. Set your hearts on his kingdom first, and on his righteousness, and all these other things will be given you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow: tomorrow, will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble if its own.’  (Matthew 6: 25-34)

Sometimes you just know God is trying to tell you something.  I went home and thought about it.  Depression is different from other medical conditions, in that there is a certain amount of control one can have over it merely through the choices one makes.  No, really.  (I can hear people disagreeing with me.)   I have met people who seem almost to identify with their depression to the point where they describe it as being part of their genetic makeup, and love-love-love telling you about how they and all the members of their family are living on anti-depressants due to congenital deficiencies in their parietal lobe.  Fiddlesticks to that, I say.

The reason I have my doubts is that we are humans who are free agents, and free agents can choose at each moment how they are going to behave.  We might not always be able to control how we think, but we can control how we behave.  I can remember thinking while I was depressed, that I was ever so bored with my brain which seemed to want to go round and round in an endless monologue over the same subject matter.  The trick seemed to be actually to do something which would change the subject.  What helped me escape from my depression was meditating on the above reading, telling God that I needed a hand and then going outside myself to think about other people who were in situations far worse than my relatively mundane and self-centred situation.  At one point, I remember seeing a picture in a newspaper about a young boy from Vietnam whose face had been terribly disfigured through burns, but who was coming to Australia for plastic surgery.  These things made me realise I needed to get out of my own head and start doing something positive, even if emotionally I didn’t feel in the mood.  I decided the cure for feeling miserable and broke was to start helping other people who were even more down-and-out than I was.  I looked up the nearest St Vincent de Paul Conference and went to their next meeting.  Soon I was in training with a senior member, learning how to discern whether someone required a food voucher or other assistance.  I had always been a Mass-goer, but now prayer and scripture reading became more of a daily feature of my life.  And the more I concentrated on helping others, the smaller my own problems seemed.  In addition to this, over time, God helped us to prosper our business and manage on our budget.  I look back on this period as my first great re-conversion to the Faith.

This didn’t just happen once in my life – over the course of decades, there have been several occasions where things have gone pear-shaped and I have been tempted to slip into depression and self-centredness.  And every time, God has reached in and shown me the way forward – because Jesus Christ our Saviour is the Light of the World, He cares about our individual situations, He wants us to come into a right relationship with Him, and He wants us to be filled with an unshakeable joy in the midst of life’s trials.

Lent is about to begin on Ash Wednesday.  This is a perfect time to pre-empt Satan’s plans for our misery by deepening our prayer life, coming close to God and asking Him to place in our path those people whom he wants us to help and encourage.

Today’s readings:
Word format: year-a-8th-sunday-2017
Pdf format: year-a-8th-sunday-2017


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3rd Sunday, Year A | Prudence and Passion

calling-of-peter-and-andrew-ravenna-mosaic

The Calling of Peter and Andrew, Mosaic, 6th century, Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, Italy.

Calculation and rationality can only take us so far when it comes to following Christ.  Every now and then, Christ calls us to do something which may, to others, seem a bit imprudent.

Consider the disciples in today’s Gospel.  There they were, Simon and Peter, James and John enjoying another humdrum day at the nets, when Jesus summons them to follow him.  And they drop everything and go.  Can this possibly be sensible – leaving the security of their trade, abandoning their family responsibilities?

Surely the prudent person would have been more like the young man in Luke 9:61, to whom Jesus says, ‘Follow me’.

[He] replied, ‘Let me go and bury my father first.’  But Jesus answered, ‘Leave the dead to bury their dead; your duty is to go and spread the news of the kingdom of God.’

What about the rich young man in Matthew 19:21-22?

The young man said to him, ‘I have kept all these [commandments].  What more do I need to do?’  Jesus said, ‘If you wish to be perfect, go and sell your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come follow me.’  But when the young man heard these words he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.

Jesus is asking him to do what the world might consider foolish and reckless.

Then there’s the widow in Luke 21:1-4:

 … he noticed a poverty-stricken widow putting in two small coins, and he said, ‘I tell you truly, this poor widow has put in more than any of them; for these have all put in money they could spare, but she in her poverty has put in all she had to live on.’

Surely that was imprudent!  Shouldn’t she have kept something aside for herself?

Part of the difficulty in our understanding is that our use of the word prudent in contemporary English has shifted.  It now has overtones of cautiousness, whereas the traditional usage is much richer than that.

Prudence is the ability to decide where an act is on the sliding scale from those acts which are cowardly, over-cautious and self-protective to deeds which are reckless and needlessly risky.  Somewhere in the middle of these two extremes are acts which are courageous.  Too much caution will make you immobile with fear; too little caution and you may end up in hot water.  But Jesus doesn’t seem to mind people making radically incautious choices when it comes to his Kingdom.

prudence

The question is, “What does the Holy Spirit want?”  This is the whole point of the Holy Spirit’s gift of Counsel or Right Judgement – to perfect the virtue of prudence, the ability to choose wisely with this single criterion in mind: “Does it help advance the proclamation of the Gospel?”

So we have to rethink Prudence in the light of an act’s service to the Gospel.  That is why the disciples’ leaving their livelihood, or a person giving his money away to the right cause, or being willing to die rather than renounce his faith, can, in God’s eyes, be supremely prudent.

But prudential decisions are not made merely in a dry, analytical framework.  Today’s readings give us a glimpse of the audaciousness, surprise and joy that accompany a radical decision for Christ.

The people that lived in darkness
has seen a great light;
On those who dwell in the land and shadow of death
a light has dawned.

It’s not easy to describe the inner landscape of a person who has been illuminated by the Holy Spirit.  But it’s as if one now inhabits a mental universe where all things are possible, where the most tricky situations can be entrusted to a loving Father, where self-forgetfulness replaces self-consciousness.  There’s something about Jesus that has enlightened the disciples on this day by the Sea of Galilee and stirred up the courage and the passion to abandon themselves to his plan.

If we look at the lives of holy people, we can get a sense of their joyful, incautious abandonment to Christ.

St Francis of Assisi .. gave up the opportunity to live a life of luxury as the son of a silk merchant, and devoted himself to spreading the Gospel through preaching, living the same life of poverty as the poorest of the poor and restoring several ruined churches.
St John Bosco … had a bold idea to help street children and unemployed boys to find work, safe lodging and a grounding in Christ.  Despite his almost constant lack of resources, he worked tirelessly to establish his Oratory and trusted in God to supply their needs.
St Katharine Drexel … gave up her seven million dollar fortune to join the Sisters of Mercy and found the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, providing schools and missions to native Americans.
St Damien of Molokai … gave up his personal comfort to share his life with the quarantined leper colony in Hawaii, building schools, roads, hospitals and churches to provide for their material and physical needs.
Mother Angelica … despite knowing nothing about broadcasting, had a bold vision to evangelise through television and, starting from small beginnings, went on to develop EWTN, the largest religious media network in the world.

Let’s try having a conversation with God today about his purposes for us – he might be about to inspire us to do something joyfully bold for his Kingdom!

Today’s readings

Word format: year-a-3rd-sunday-2017
Pdf format: year-a-3rd-sunday-2017


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The Epiphany of the Lord | A Star shall come out of Jacob

gentile-da-fabriano-adoration-of-the-magi-detail

Adoration of the Magi (detail), Gentile da Fabriano, 1423, Tempera on panel, Uffizi Gallery, Florence.

There was a ‘feeling in the air’ in the first century Roman Empire – a sense that something greater was about to invade the world.  The Jews apprehended it and calculated the approximate timing of the coming of the Anointed Prince from Daniel’s prophecy:

From the time there went out this message:
“Return and rebuild Jerusalem”
to the coming of an Anointed Prince, seven weeks and sixty-two weeks … (Daniel 9:25)

Even the Romans were aware of the coming King.  Suetonius (c. AD 69-140) records that the belief in a Judaean King who would rule the world was widespread in the Eastern Empire – the Emperor Vespasian (naturally) applied the prophecy to himself, little realising that the King had already Risen and was rapidly expanding his Kingdom under Vespasian’s very nose.

There had spread over all the Orient an old and established belief, that it was fated for men coming from Judaea to rule the world. This prediction, referring to the emperor of Rome -as afterwards appeared from the event- the people of Judaea took to themselves. (Suetonius, Life of Vespasian 4.5)

That other great historian of the Roman Empire, Tacitus (c. AD 56-120), wrote of this as well:

The majority [of the Jews] were convinced that the ancient scriptures of their priests alluded to the present as the very time when the Orient would triumph and from Judaea would go forth men destined to rule the world.  (Tacitus, Histories 5.13)

How typical of God’s action in history, to ensure that all the key elements were in place for the coming of the Messiah: the Pax Romana with its efficient network of roads , a common language – Greek – for the spreading of the Gospel, and a fevered expectation throughout the eastern end of the Empire that a Messiah-King was due.

So when the Magi arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the infant King of the Jews”, they were taken seriously.  So seriously, in fact, that Herod did his utmost to prevent the prophecy being fulfilled and ordered the Massacre of the Innocents.  He should have read his Sophocles and realised that the more one attempts to circumvent a prophecy, the more one ends up being caught in its net.

Herod is known as “The Great” because he poured money and resources into ambitious construction projects: the vast expansion of the second Temple and the impressive ten hectare harbour at Caesarea Maritima which was the largest open-sea harbour in all the world.

Great in material achievements Herod might have been, but what is that in the scheme of things?  What do we see about his character from today’s Gospel: deviousness, duplicity, envy and murderous intent;  the use of his power to squash opposition, no matter how small and defenceless;  the recruitment of others to execute his commands, so that, removed from the physical brutality of killing, he could maintain a semblance of dignity.

Josephus tells us that Herod the Great murdered even his own sons, Alexander and Aristobulus, who had gained great popularity with the people, but whom he suspected of plotting against him.

… he ventured, without any certain evidence of their treacherous designs against him, and without any proofs that they had made preparations for such attempt, to kill his own sons, who were of very comely bodies, and the great darlings of other men, and no way deficient in their conduct, whether it were in hunting, or in warlike exercises, or in speaking upon occasional topics of discourse; for in all these they were skillful, and especially Alexander, who was the eldest; for certainly it had been sufficient, even though he had condemned them, to have kept them alive in bonds, or to let them live at a distance from his dominions in banishment, while he was surrounded by the Roman forces, which were a strong security to him, whose help would prevent his suffering any thing by a sudden onset, or by open force; but for him to kill them on the sudden, in order to gratify a passion that governed him, was a demonstration of insufferable impiety.  (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book XVI)

So much for Herod.  Meanwhile, the Magi – the priestly astronomers of their day and masters of the night sky – are open to the guidance of the Spirit and attentive to the way God communicates through natural events.  The sight of the star ‘fills them with delight’ – their childlike enchantment is as much like Heaven as Herod’s malice and egocentrism is like Hell.  Nobody was forcing them to make this trip to Judaea – they came in voluntary humility, with the idea of giving homage, paying tribute, showing their allegiance, acknowledging a greatness outside themselves.  This journey was not about them, it was about the newborn King.  We don’t even hear their names in the Biblical account.  There was nothing they gained by the journey – no quid pro quo they were expecting to receive from the newborn in return for their gifts.  This was an act of self-giving.

Were these Magi real or fictional?  Fr Dwight Longenecker has been on a quest to discover the historical truth of the matter.  He says,

What I found was astounding. First I discovered that because of their assumption that the Magi story was a fairy tale very few scholars had taken the time to investigate thoroughly the possible identity of the wise men. My research brought me into contact with new technologies which shed light on the subject. Some fresh archeological findings and new understandings from the Dead Sea Scrolls also contributed to the quest.

As it turns out, it is perfectly probable that there were wise men who had the motive, the means and the method to pay homage to Jesus Christ just as Matthew recorded.  The simple truth is that Matthew’s account is factual not fictional. 

My findings not only stand the established academic orthodoxy on its head, but they should cause everyone interested in New Testament scholarship, ancient history and the historical veracity of the gospels to think again. 

Like the story of King Arthur, the tale of the wise men who visited Bethlehem was embroidered and embellished over many years. The history became legend and the legend became myth. But beneath it all there is a foundation of historical truth which is fascinating and compelling.

Stay tuned for his book, The Mystery of the Magi, which will be released in Advent 2017.

Today’s readings:
Word format: epiphany-abc
Pdf format: epiphany-abc

 


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First Sunday of Advent | The Virtuous Branch of the House of David

Christ-the-Redeemer-Rio-de-Janeiro

Christ the Redeemer, Paul Landowski, Heitor da Silva Costa, Albert Caquot and Gheorghe Leonida, 1931, Corcovado Hill, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Most people are unaware of the sheer number of prophecies in the Old Testament which are fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  Taylor Marshall has compiled a list in his book, The Crucified Rabbi: Judaism and the Origins of Catholic Christianity, The Origins of Catholicism, Volume 1. Our first reading today includes one of these prophecies:

See, the days are coming — it is the Lord who speaks — when I am going to fulfil the promise I made to the House of Israel and the House of Judah:

‘In those days and at that time,
I will make a virtuous Branch grow for David,
who shall practise honesty and integrity in the land.

In those days Judah shall be saved and Israel shall dwell in confidence.
And this is the name the city will be called:
The Lord-our-integrity.’  (Jer 33:14-16)

Dr John Bergsma explains Jeremiah’s reference to a branch.

  … we notice that the Reading refers to a “just shoot” (other translations: “Righteous Branch”) raised up for David.  Here the word is Hebrew tzemakh, “branch, sprout.”  In a more famous passage that speaks of the “Branch,” a Hebrew synonym is employed, netzer: “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch (netzer) shall grow out of his roots.” This word netzer is the root of the geographical name Nazareth, and in Matt 2:23, the Evangelist finds it particularly fitting that Jesus, the “Branch” (netzer) should come from “Branchton” (Nazareth) and be called a “Branchian” (Nazarene).

Jesus is the ultimate fulfilment of ‘the Lord-our-integrity’.  There has been a lot of commentary in the media and on social networking sites in recent weeks about the causes of and solutions to the threat of terrorism.  I would urge all commentators to examine the life of Jesus next to someone like Mohammed and decide where the integrity really lies.  There is a tolerable comparison here. And Marc Barnes has an article which goes to the core of the problem that Western Secular Liberalism has in understanding Islam.

Meanwhile, what is a Christian to do?  Let’s look at what Paul says in the second reading: “May the Lord be generous in increasing your love and make you love one another and the whole human race as much as we love you.  And may he so confirm your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless in the sight of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus Christ comes with all his saints.”

Perhaps the best advice is to follow our Blessed Mother’s request and pray the rosary for our confused world.

Today’s readings (Australia):

Word Format: Year C 1st Sunday of Advent 2015

Pdf Format: Year C 1st Sunday of Advent 2015


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21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B | To whom shall we go?

Jesus and DisciplesAfter hearing his doctrine many of the followers of Jesus said, ‘This is intolerable language. How could anyone accept it? (John 6:60)

Jesus gives everyone the opportunity of accepting or rejecting him.  This is the ultimate choice we are all faced with.  At the same time, faith is a gift.

He went on, ‘This is why I told you that no one could come to me unless the Father allows him.’ After this, many of his disciples left him and stopped going with him.

This looks like it is up to God the Father to decide whether anyone will accept Jesus or not, based on the quality of men’s hearts.  This is why prayer is so important.  Pray, pray, pray for your loved ones – and your enemies – to receive the gift of faith.  Spend more time praying, and less time arguing.  Spend more time telling others about Christ, and less time criticizing their morals and feeling self-righteous.  You can’t expect atheists and agnostics to have a coherent system of morality unless they are grounded in Christ first.  At the same time, you need to show how Christ is living and active in your life first – ask him to live in you and help you find the words to present Christ to everyone you come into contact with.  And if you are readings this and don’t have faith but are intrigued by the idea of it being a gift, tell God you are open to him giving you any gifts he wants.

God gives the gift of faith to the twelve that remain with him, especially to Peter, who declares:

Lord, who shall we go to? You have the message of eternal life, and we believe; we know that you are the Holy One of God.

Peter doesn’t understand what Jesus has been talking about through most of chapter 6, but he has seen his miracles and heard his wisdom and loved him as a person, and that’s enough for him and enough for God.  God can build on that openness of heart.  But he can’t build on closed-minded arrogance (… although he can break down a person’s arrogance – I have a great story about that, but that will have to be a message for another day).

Today’s readings (Australia):

Word format:Year B 21st Sunday 2015

Pdf format: Year B 21st Sunday 2015

For a more detailed commentary on today’s Gospel, listen to Fr Barron’s homily for today.  The Catholic interpretation of the Eucharist is deeply Christ-centred.  If you have ever had a Protestant brother say to you, “ah, but the flesh counts for nothing” (John 6:63), then you need to listen to this.

And for a Scripture Study on these readings, go to Michael Barber’s commentary here.


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Solemnity of The Body and Blood of Christ, Year B | Why do I remain Catholic?

Body and Blood of Christ, Corpus ChristiThe recent Pew Forum’s study on America’s Changing Religious Landscape has sparked a flurry of statements from good people on why they remain Catholic, and Elizabeth Scalia at The Anchoress has asked for contributions from committed Catholics everywhere.  We are not American, but Australia suffers from the same problem as America, with the number of Christians expected to drop from 67.3% in 2010 to 47.0% in 2050.

Today’s solemnity gives us an opportunity to talk about one of the chief reasons I remain Catholic: in the Catholic church we still remain faithful and obedient to a particular instruction from the Lord about what we need to do to inherit eternal life.  Of course, there are many things that are required: following his commandments, accepting him as our Lord and Saviour, but we can’t ignore this one: eating his body and blood, which is what today’s solemnity is all about.

  • And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. (Luke 22:19-20)
  • For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. (1 Cor. 11:23-27)
  • I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”  The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.  Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.   For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.   Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.  As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me.   This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”   (John 6:51-58)

When Jesus says, “οὐκ ἔχετε ζωὴν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς” (you have no life in you), the word ζωὴν or “Zoe” refers not to physical life, but to spiritual life – the eternal life of the soul.

The early church certainly understood the Sacrament as literally Christ’s Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

St Justin Martyr, First Apology 66, A.D. 151:

“We call this food Eucharist, and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true and who has been washed in the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration [i.e., has received baptism] and is thereby living as Christ enjoined. For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nurtured, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus”

Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Smyrnaeans 6:2-7:1, A.D. 110

“Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God. . . . They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which that Father, in his goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes”

Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Philadelphians, 3:2-4:1, 110 A.D.

Take care, then who belong to God and to Jesus Christ – they are with the bishop. And those who repent and come to the unity of the Church – they too shall be of God, and will be living according to Jesus Christ. Do not err, my brethren: if anyone follow a schismatic, he will not inherit the Kingdom of God. If any man walk about with strange doctrine, he cannot lie down with the passion. Take care, then, to use one Eucharist, so that whatever you do, you do according to God: for there is one Flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup in the union of His Blood; one altar, as there is one bishop with the presbytery and my fellow servants, the deacons.

Irenaeus, Against Heresies 5:2, A.D. 189

“He has declared the cup, a part of creation, to be his own blood, from which he causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, he has established as his own body, from which he gives increase unto our bodies. When, therefore, the mixed cup [wine and water] and the baked bread receives the Word of God and becomes the Eucharist, the body of Christ, and from these the substance of our flesh is increased and supported, how can they say that the flesh is not capable of receiving the gift of God, which is eternal life—flesh which is nourished by the body and blood of the Lord, and is in fact a member of him?”  

Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor of Children 1:6:43:3, A.D. 191

“’Eat my flesh,’ [Jesus] says, ‘and drink my blood.’ The Lord supplies us with these intimate nutrients, he delivers over his flesh and pours out his blood, and nothing is lacking for the growth of his children”.

… and these are just a few references from the 2nd century.  Many more are found among the Church Fathers.

Anyway, I do recommend you go and read these beautiful testimonies.

Watch Fr Barron explain about eating Jesus’ flesh:

Today’s readings for Australia:

Word format: Year B Body and Blood of Christ

Pdf format: Year B Body and Blood of Christ