Friday, April 11, 2008

Homily for the Memorial of St. Stanislaus

"My Flesh is true food and my Blood is true drink. Unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you do not have life within you."

All of us must eat to survive. Our life, in a sense, is always borrowed; it is taken from some other life. When we eat an ear of corn, the corn itself, which had been living at one time, is destroyed and incorporated into our bodies. When we enjoy a McDonald’s hamburger, or rather, when we eat a McDonald’s hamburger, whether we enjoy it or not, we are rarely cognizant of the fact that somewhere an animal had to give its life so that we could take its flesh, grind it up and consume it.

The Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the Word of God, became Flesh and dwelt among us. He did this not merely to set an example, though He did this (and I will return to this point). He becomes Flesh in order to give this Flesh for the life of the world. Now, like the poor cow that died to become a Big Mac, Our Lord also had to die in order to become our true food. Two lessons follow from this fact.

First of all, since Jesus Christ is not only a man who died but also God’s Son Who was raised up and dies no more, the life that we have within us when we eat his Flesh is not the sort of life that we receive when we eat other kinds of food. This is spiritual food that brings eternal life; it is indeed, God’s life that becomes our own life, and this life can never be destroyed, even if our bodies are destroyed. And this brings the second point: just as Jesus Christ died to give life to the world, we are called to this radical gift of ourselves for others, having no fear of death.

How often do we lament the lack of time, and lack of energy that we have? Benedictine Anselm GrĂ¼n has said that if we are always tired it might be because we aren’t finding our life and strength in God’s inexhaustible life. If we have this life within us, we don’t have to worry about pouring ourselves out in service of others in imitation of Christ’s service. Even if we die doing it, we simply are following His pattern, which includes total faith in God the Father, Who will raise us up as He did Jesus Christ.

Today we celebrate the memory of St. Stanislaus, patron of Poland, who followed this teaching rather literally, being slain by King Boleslaw as he offered the sacrifice of the Mass. Kings usually think of themselves as the center of life in their kingdoms, but it is the martyr Stanislaus who, by the offering of his life in service of his country and of Christ, whose memory and whose prayers strengthen the faithful today, especially the Poles, whose zeal for the gospel is so strong in the Church right now. May God grant us the grace to follow the example of our Savior and St. Stanislaus in receiving divine life and so offering our own.

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If I, who seem to be your right hand and am called Presbyter and seem to
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may the whole Church, in unanimous resolve, cut me, its right hand, off, and
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Origen of Alexandria
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