Homily by Archbishop Charles Jude Scicluna
This is a day we will always remember, the day when we as a community could come together again after three months of a big and great Eucharistic fast, come back together in our churches to celebrate the Eucharist, to hear the Word of the Lord and to receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In 1920, one hundred years ago, Pope Benedict the XV proclaimed to the Church the great news that he was going to proclaim a man from Syria, a doctor of the Church. This man had lived in the 4th century and his name was Ephrem. He was a deacon, a great theologian, a great mystic, a great poet. He used his skills to compose extraordinary hymns through which he brought doctrine and faith to the people of God.
It is not only our lips that are touched and purified, which means, of course, the Lord wanting to purify our loves and our passions, but it is this great gift of an inner purification that leads and draws us to eternal life.
In one of his great hymns to the Eucharist, St Ephrem, doctor of the Church, says these wonderful words. “In your bread hides the spirits who cannot be consumed; in your wine as the fire that cannot be swallowed, the spirit in your bread, fire in your wine. Behold a wonder received by our lips”. The image St Ephrem uses is of great intimacy, “spirit and fire that are received by our lips”, a very sensitive of the body, but of the language of love and intimacy. And he remembers that the prophet Isaiah was purified when the glowing coal brought by the Seraph touched his lips.
St Ephrem says: “In the Eucharist the Lord does not only touch our lips, he grants us the grace to swallow this great fire, to consume the spirit. And if fire came to destroy sinners,” he says, “now the fire and the bread is a means whereby we are healed, purified and invigorated, given life”.
A number of times in today’s Gospel, Jesus insists that his flesh is real food, his blood is real drink. “He who eats my flesh,” he says, “and drinks my blood, lives in me and I live in him” (Jn 6:54). It is not only our lips that are touched and purified, which means, of course, the Lord wanting to purify our loves and our passions, but it is this great gift of an inner purification that leads and draws us to eternal life. “As I who am sent by living Father, myself draw life from the Father, so whoever eats me, will draw life from me” (Jn 6:57).
Let us pray on this Sunday when we celebrate the great mystery of the Eucharist, that our community may be given the grace and the gift to participate in holy mass and to be able to receive Jesus Christ in his flesh and in his blood.
✠ Charles Jude Scicluna
Archbishop of Malta
First Reading: Deut 8, 2-3.14b-16a
Psalm: 146 (147), 12-13.14-15.19-20
Second Reading: 1 Cor 10, 16-17
Gospel: Jn 6, 51-58
More photos: ritratti.knisja.mt/