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Homily for the Ten-Day Peace Period Mass in Ibaraki District



Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time


August 16, 2015 at Kashima Church

First Reading: Proverbs 9:1-6
Second Reading: The Letter to the Ephesians 5:15-20
Gospel Reading: John 6:51-58

Lord Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mountain.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
This year’s Ten-day Peace Period has ended yesterday, but today, on August 16th, I’d like to offer the Peace Period mass of Saitama Diocese here at Kashima Church, and have a time to learn the teachings about Peace.

Human beings are weak and sinful. The history of human beings is the history of conflicts and wars. To make the peace God wishes to be realized, we have to follow the teachings of Lord Jesus. We have to follow the guidance of Lord’s Spirit. Let’s start reading today’s Gospel from this point of view.

At the beginning of Chapter 6 of today’s Gospel according to John, the story of the miracle about five loaves was told. Later on, the contents shift from the bread which feeds the life on earth to the story of the bread which gives the eternal life.
Jesus declares that he is indeed the bread of eternal life. The people who heard this word got perplexed, surprised, and offended.
Jesus added, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” (John 6:29) He then continued, “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.” (John 6:56)
The surprise of the people who heard this reached to the top with a shock of “I cannot stand listening anymore.”

There is another sentence, “The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’” (John 6:52) People took offence at the expression “eat my flesh and drink my blood.”
The people could not take the meaning of Jesus’ words except literally “eat the flesh and blood of Jesus as a human.”
However, Jesus talked about the world of spirit. What Jesus told about was the spirit that gives us the eternal life.
“It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” (John 6:63)
The central teaching in the Gospel according to John is “the eternal life.”
Jesus says, “whoever believes has eternal life.” (John 6:47)
“And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)
“Eternal life” is the life of God which is given to those who believe him.
Accordingly, the most important question in Chapter 6 of the Gospel according to John is “do you believe Jesus?”

The Eucharist is performed in the mass. It has to be a person who believe Jesus whoever receives a communion. Only who declares “I believe Jesus” and responds to the priest’s word “this is the body of Christ” with “Amen” can receives a communion.
To believe Jesus Christ simply means to walk holding the Jesus’ mind as yours, and try to live in unity with Jesus Christ.

When a priest consecrate bread and wine in the Eucharist, bread turns into the body of Christ and wine turns into his blood. In that case, it does not mean that bread is no more bread and wine is no more wine due to chemical reactions. Due to the words of Christ and the work of the Spirit of Christ, the resurrected Christ does exist with the shape of bread and wine.
To receive a communion means to declare our faith in Jesus Christ and to be united with Christ, and therefore, prior to a communion, we have to examine our faith and life carefully.

Well, this mass is being offered as the event of the Peace Period. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
How are we expected to do in order to be called “children of God”? Today, I’d like to learn together with you about peace, focusing on the teachings of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan.

[All the Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition (NRSVCE), copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

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