Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Are You Being Fed?

In some protestant churches if someone wants to know if the church you joined is a good place for you to be they will ask “Are you being fed?” The choir can be musical, the sanctuary beautiful, the sermons evangelical, the youth ministry radical, but “Are you being fed”?

Now you will almost never hear someone ask a Catholic “Are you being fed”? Many would assume we are not! Yet if anyone can answer “Yes” to that question, it’s a Catholic!

First, the Catholic, like the protestant, is being fed with the Word of God from the Bible. On a typical Sunday the Catholic hears four readings from Scripture: an Old Testament passage, a Psalm, a New Testament passage from the epistles, Acts or Revelation, and a Gospel passage!

I’ll admit that Catholic priests aren’t exactly known for their preaching skills. (Catholics call their preaching “homilies” not “sermons”). Yet I would say that the average priest’s homily is as good as an average protestant pastor’s sermon. The key difference is its purpose.

The Catholic scripture readings and homily are part of the Liturgy of the Word, the first part of the Mass. They prepare the faithful for the second part, the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the heart of the Mass. In Protestant churches the sermon (and perhaps the altar call) is the heart of the service.

In answer to the question “Are you being fed?” Catholics can say “Yes! Not only am I being fed the word of God from the Scripture, but I am literally being fed the incarnate Word of God, Jesus Christ, in the Eucharist!

The Eucharist is a continuation of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. Once consecrated, the bread and wine become the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ. Just as “the word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14) at the Incarnation, so in the Eucharist Jesus gives us his flesh and blood as real spiritual food and drink (John 6:53-59). He gives us himself.

Am I being fed? Yes, both through the Scripture and the Eucharist I am receiving the Word of God. I am being fed by and with Jesus. And you are what you eat!

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