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May 1, 2020
May 3, 2020

Homily for Saturday of the Third Week of Easter, 2 May 2020
John 6:60-69

Today I invite you to meditate on the words Peter said in reply to Jesus when Jesus said, “Will you also leave me?” He said, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of ETERNAL LIFE.”
If you have noticed, for the past few weeks now, we have been reading from the Book of the Acts of the Apostles. Many people do not know that this book is actually the second volume of the composition of St. Luke, which practically makes up one-third of the whole NT. I wish we just called it the Gospel of Luke in two volumes: Volume One has 24 chapters and Volume Two 28 chapters.
Or if we prefer to call them “Acts”, then we can call volume one the ACTS OF JESUS WITH HIS APOSTLES before his resurrection, and volume two ACTS OF THE RISEN JESUS IN AND THROUGH HIS APOSTLES. For St. Luke, it is important to know that it is the SAME JESUS before and after his resurrection—carrying out his mission. We also read that in Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever.”
And what is the mission of Jesus Christ? Let us take it from today’s Gospel. His mission is ETERNAL LIFE. The word eternal does not mean much anymore to many educated people nowadays. It is associated with the realm of the unrealistic, the realm of the impossible, knowing that in this world, there are limits to everything, whether we like it or not. We are immediately limited to time and space. Don’t we hear young people nowadays saying jikingly, WALANG FOREVER?
Many years ago, I met a group of doctors who had volunteered to provide health care in countries that have no adequate health care system. They call themselves in French “Médecins Sans Frontières”, in Spanish, “Medicos Sin Fronteras”, and in English, “Doctors Without Borders”. Today, let me use their concept of a discipline “without borders” for a more practical understanding of ETERNITY. In plain language, I propose to understand eternity as LIFE WITH NO BOUNDARIES, or a life that defies boundaries.
For Jesus, this was the life that God has always wanted to share with us humankind from the very beginning of creation. A participation in divine life, having been ourselves created in God’s image and likeness. In the process, something had gone wrong because God had exaggerated that participation by giving us free will, which led to sin, which brought about death, the ultimate boundary of all boundaries. But for love of us, God also gave us his Only Son to fulfill his plan.
Jesus’ mission is to teach us how to regain the eternal life that we have lost, by working against all the boundaries. And his formula for eternal life is simple: UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. Sin sets a boundary to relationships. It leads to a lot of conflict situations, to falling outs, to breakdowns and relationships falling apart. Unconditional love defies the boundaries through forgiveness and reconciliation—the stubborn option to go on loving, even when rejected, even at the cost of so much suffering.
We are confronted by life’s boundaries and limits when we deal with evil, with things that can cause a lot of suffering like the Covid virus, with crises that can lead to death. It is only love than can defy all these boundaries through a consistent choice to give of oneself in the name of Jesus, rather than just preserve oneself.
In today’s Gospel, he speaks about inviting us to eat of his flesh and drink of his blood, so that we can change and grow and be configured to himself, so that we too can rise above our limits, so that we too can transcend all borders. But there is a catch—we can only do it by sharing in his suffering and death. And that’s the reason for the falling out of some disciples. They found it too much; they felt that Jesus was asking too much of them.
But sorry, it is like that. If we want to have a share in the life of the SON OF GOD and be counted among the saints or the holy ones, we must first learn to participate in the life of the SON OF MAN. (Did you notice that reference to the early Christians in the first reading as the “community of the saints or holy ones”?). The Son of Man gives up his life like bread, down to the last morsel, or like wine, down to the last drop. This is the reason why we use bread and wine for the Eucharist. They are both very pregnant with meaning.
Like BREAD made from many grains of wheat, crushed and powdered, watered and salted and leavened, and mashed into a dough, so that it rises, it is eventually baked and served, blessed and broken and eaten and consumed. Like WINE made from many grapes also crushed and pulped, and juiced, and aged and fermented, until it is ready to be drunk and consumed at banquets. As it is with bread and wine, so it is with the flesh and blood of the Son of Man who is the Son of God.
We face boundaries all the time as human beings: the limits of our strength, the limits of our age, of our physical condition, our capacity to love and forgive.
But in Jesus’ name, we are able to go beyond all these limits, rise above borders by eating his body and drinking his blood and entering into communion with him. By receiving his life and allowing him to change us into children of God, into creatures without borders.
This is the mystery we call the EUCHARIST, which we call the SACRAMENT OF LOVE. It is through this sacrament that the same Jesus of 2000 years ago carries on with his mission until today 2020—his mission of sharing his life without borders, through you and me, through us members of his body the Church, in the here and now.

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