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Fr. Ben's 4.23.2023 Letter to the Parishioners

Jesus invites us to believe and be fed.

A number of years ago there was a phenomenon in Ireland of “moving statues.” It started in 1985 in a place called Ballinspittle, County Cork. However, it was not confined to that place as simultaneously stories of moving statues were reported throughout the country. Some were Marian “apparitions” while others included saints and other Divine figures. Thousand flocked to the different sites but particularly the County Cork site where it was estimated that up to 100,000 visitors came to view and pray. The press, and some bishops, were not only skeptical but mocking in their “reporting” of the phenomenon and the “simple” faith of the crowds. One “expert,” the anthropologist Peter Mulholland wrote , “that the continuing role of Marian apparitions in Irish popular culture is a reflection of psychological insecurity stemming largely from adverse childhood experiences and a concatenation of historical, cultural, political, religious and sociological factors.” (Mulholland, Peter. (2008) ‘Moving Statues and Concrete Thinking’, Quaderns de l'Institut Català d'Antropologia: sèrie monogràfics 23). To quote the even more eminent commentator on the human condition, Buggs Bunny, “What a maroon!”

Such large crowds drawn to the site of miracles, or reports of the miraculous, are not unusual. Interestingly, large crowds gathered wherever Jesus was because of the “signs” he worked. It is estimated that a crowd of 100,000 gathered in expectation of the miracle at Fatima on 13 October 1917, which was prophesied by the three shepherd children. People are drawn to the miraculous and the holy but very often, many, for the phenomenon itself rather than the message it conveys. How many go to visit the Shroud of Turin, or the Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, because they are interested in the item, not because they have faith? They leave and return to their ordinary lives because they failed to grasp the reality behind the miraculous, or the holy, they fail to recognize the work of God. They failed to see or experience God, and so, their lives remained as they were – searching but never finding, looking but never seeing. Many heard Jesus and saw what he did but they walked away because it was too much to accept. This is particularly true when it came to His teaching about the Eucharist, when he said: “My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.”

On the road to Emmaus the two disciples recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread! Why? Was it not Jesus Himself who told us why? Jesus said: “This is my body, this is my blood” and “My flesh is real food, my blood is real drink.” At the Last Supper He said to His apostles: When you do this (breaking of the bread) I will be made present.

People go all over in search of the miracle, the miraculous, the spectacular, and yet, every day, in every Mass, a miracle takes place that we all can be a part of and experience. Bread and wine are transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ. And, even more, God then invited us to come forward and receive the Body and Blood of His Son into our bodies and into our lives. The Lord invites us to sit at table with Him and recognize Him in the breaking of bread.

Now that is a miracle worth seeing and that is a meal worth having.

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