Psychiatrists tell us that depression is felt by large numbers of people in every category of age, sex, income, and education.
Depression is the result of a personal tragedy such as illness, death, loss of our source of income, or some traumatic change in our life like divorce or a move to another location that we had not anticipated. At times we feel depression or anxiety and we can’t even explain why we feel this way.
Depression and anxiety are not modern inventions. Our first reading recounts the story of Elijah. To prove the power of God over false gods, he has been in a contest of power with 450 false prophets. Elijah proved that the God of Israel was the true God, but Queen Jezebel was so angry at the result, that she wanted Elijah dead; so he ran for his life.
Elijah was scared, alone, exhausted, and depressed. He fled to the desert. He was filled with such depression and self-doubt that he prayed for death. Eventually, Elijah was consoled by an angel who ordered him to get up and eat food provided by God. The real challenge of this experience was for Elijah to get on with his life. We too need spiritual food to help us get on with our lives.
In the second reading – Paul calls each of us to be kind to one another, compassionate, and mutually forgiving, just as God has forgiven us in Christ,” In effect, Saint Paul reminds us that we are called to nourish one another on our journey of life just as the angel encouraged and nourished Elijah on his journey.
In the Gospel today, Jesus speaks of nourishment. This passage is the continuation of Jesus’ promise of the Holy Eucharist. As the Gospel begins today, Jesus had been preaching to 20,000 to 25,000 people. He also had worked many miracles and cures. At the end of the day, the people were tired and the hour was late, so Jesus worked another miracle and fed the multitude with five barley – loves and two fish. The crowd had their physical hunger satisfied, so the next morning, they began to challenge Jesus to perform more signs for their entertainment, and perhaps He could prove to their satisfaction that he was the Messiah. Jesus proclaimed, “I am the bread of life that came down from heaven.” The leaders were appalled. “Who does He think He is? Is this not Jesus? Don’t we know His background? How can He claim to come down from heaven?”
Jesus tells them to STOP their murmuring and pay attention. He wanted to correct their state of mind. Their attitude is so stubborn that they are not capable of understanding anything about God. He tells them that His origin is from His Father in Heaven; then He repeats again: “I am the bread of life. I am the living bread which came down from heaven.”
The crowd refused to accept this teaching. They refused to be open, to have faith. We too are in that crowd. We too are asked to accept this teaching in the Eucharist. Our hearts and our lives need to be changed by the miracle of the Holy Eucharist present today as we celebrate this Mass and present for adoration in our Tabernacle for the sick and for adoration.
The presence of Jesus here is not symbolic. The Eucharist is the Mystical Real Presence of the Risen Lord who is not limited by space or time or a physical Body. The Eucharist is the central mystery of our Faith. The Eucharist is the core, the Heart of all the other Sacraments of the Church. The Eucharist is Christ Himself feeding us, not with perishable food but with the food that gives eternal life, the food which has the capacity to change hearts and lives because the Eucharist is not bread and wine,
The Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul, and divinity of the Risen Lord Jesus Christ. We need to recognize – to RE–CONIZE – (bring back to our memory) our belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
Today, what we do here in this Basilica is what the original followers of Jesus Christ have been doing since the Resurrection of Jesus. The reality of the Eucharist is the same. CHRIST ENDURES! CHRIST IS PRESENT! CHRIST IS AMONG US!
From the earliest records we have of the life of the early Church after the Passion, death, resurrection, and Ascension of the Lord, the disciples gathered for the celebration of the “the Breaking of the Bread”. This celebration consisted in recalling events in the life of Jesus – His miracles and teachings – the offering of gifts of bread and wine to God the Father, the Eucharistic Prayer in which the words of institution were proclaimed, and finally the distribution of the Holy Eucharist.
This celebration was taking place immediately after the Ascension of the Lord. The early Christians celebrated the “Breaking of the Bread” in homes, in fields, later during persecutions in underground burial places called catacombs, and finally, when it became safe to be a follower of Jesus – in large buildings called Basilicas.
Today, what we do here in this Basilica is what the original followers of Jesus Christ have been doing since the Resurrection of Jesus. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass has been celebrated in the great cathedrals of Europe, on the battlefields of every country where there has been war, in prisons, in concentration camps where there was great danger, and in broken-down shacks. The reality of the Eucharist is the same.
CHRIST ENDURES! CHRIST IS PRESENT! CHRIST IS AMONG US!
In the year 720AD, in Lanciano Italy, a monk began to doubt the doctrine of the Real Presence”. A miracle took place at the Mass he was offering. This Eucharistic Miracle has been adored for 1,295 years; I once stood three feet from that miracle.
In 1972, the University of Sciana was asked by the Holy Father to examine a small particle of the Eucharistic Miracle. The results of the examination are as follows. When a drop of water was placed with a sample of the dried blood, the blood was alive – the blood is alive – and has all the properties of a sample of fresh human blood. The flesh which appeared around and throughout the Eucharistic Bread is live muscular heart tissue. The blood type of the blood sample and the flesh sample is the same and it is living.
Young or old, Jesus is saying to us now, “I am the bread of life which came down from heaven…I am the bread of life. Whoever believes in Me has eternal life.” We must always hunger for Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. He is the only Bread that can satisfy our deepest hunger.