Gospel Reflection - Sunday 30th August 2020

In today’s Gospel, Jesus informs us that He and, therefore, every Christian is called to suffer and to die.“If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross.”In 2017, I was in Knock, Ireland. In 1879, 15 people witnessed an apparition of Our Lady, St Joseph, St John the Apostle with the Book of Revelations, and a Lamb pierced with a sword. Also, angels were surrounding the Lamb. In the Book of Revelations, the last book in the Bible, St John the Evangelist records a vision (of what must take place in the future in order that all things on earth are restored to Christ the Lord). His vision is a vision of perpetual adoration. The people of God go before a lamb on the throne “day and night without pause in unceasing adoration and thanksgiving” (Rev 4:8) and in Rev 5:12, St John the Apostle wrote: “Worthy is the lamb that was slain to receive honour, glory and praise”.

The symbol of the lamb represents the sacrificial presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Through Our Lord’s perfect sacrifice on the Cross we have the gift of the Holy Eucharist. Jesus offered His Flesh on the Cross so that He may become for us “the living Bread come down from heaven” for he said: “The Bread I will give is My Flesh for the life of the world.” (John 6:51) This is why when the priest says to you at communion “The Body of Christ” the full meaning is Jesus saying to you “All I have, and all I Am, I give to you.” St Augustine says of the Eucharist: “Although God is all powerful, He is unable to give more. Though vastly rich, He has no more to give.”

In this parish Jesus waits for us all day and all night in our Perpetual Adoration Chapel calling us back sometime during the week to spend some quiet time with Him in order to deepen our intimacy with Him. In this parish, we have a Chapel of Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration. The Pope, John Paul II urges lay people to “redouble over efforts to teach the youngest generation the meaning and value of Eucharistic Adoration. How will young people be able to know the Lord if they don’t spend time in His Real Presence? Sacrifice is the language of love. On the Cross, Jesus demonstrated how much He loves us. He gave up His Body on the Cross that He may give His Body to us in Holy Communion. The message of the Sacred Heart of Jesus pointing to His Heart: "Behold My Heart which has loved men so much and yet is so little loved in return. I thirst with such a terrible thirst to be loved by you in the Blessed Sacrament." (Jesus still pointing to His Heart).

When Jesus healed ten lepers, only one came back to give Him thanks for the miracle of a clean body. Jesus said: "Were not all ten made whole. Where are the other nine?” (Luke 17:17) Every Sunday Jesus performs a far greater miracle for us. In spite of the fact that Jesus asks us to give thanks for this great gift by coming back during the week and visiting Him in the Blessed Sacrament, only a very few do. Your sacrifice will make up for the ingratitude of the "other nine", for the many who never think of visiting Him at all. He saw down through the ages. He saw how many would walk away from His Eucharistic Love, and not even bother to come to mass. He saw where in the many tabernacles of the world He would be left alone and forgotten. He saw how few would believe in His Real Presence, and fewer still would respond to his appeal to be loved day and night in the Blessed Sacrament. He saw how most people would live their lives as if He were not here. He called on His apostles to comfort Him, but they preferred to sleep because it was in the middle of the night.

Today Jesus calls out to you in the middle of the night "Could you not watch one hour with Me." (Matthew 26:40).In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus saw each time you would make a sacrifice to answer His call especially by getting up in the middle of the night to keep Him company for one hour in the Blessed Sacrament. There is no sacrifice that can compare to the sacrifice that Jesus makes for us in the Blessed Sacrament. In the Blessed Sacrament the Creator of all things takes the form of mere food. Every sacrifice that we are willing to make for love of Him by being willing to spend one hour a week, especially in the middle of the night, comforts and consoles His Heart for those who do not know Him, or love Him, and wins countless graces for the whole world to return to Him who said, "If I be lifted up I will draw all men to Myself."On the Cross, Jesus was lifted up in hatred. Those who are willing to make a sacrifice by keeping Him company especially in the middle of the night lift Him up in love.

Those willing to make this sacrifice draw down upon the whole human race all of the graces that He won for us on Calvary. This is why Mother Teresa of Calcutta says that “Perpetual adoration needs a great push in parishes because this is what will save the world."St Peter Julian Eymard said the same thing when he stated: "Today perpetual adoration with exposition of the Blessed Sacrament is the grace and need of our time. Society will be restored and renewed when all its members group themselves around our Emmanuel." Countless men and women throughout the ages have made many sacrifices to go to war. How few are willing to make even a small sacrifice in order to bring about peace. There has never been a weak army that has ever won a battle against a stronger one.

Evil prevails throughout the world today because those who are against God are willing to make more sacrifices than those who are for God. Who will awake from the complacency of indifference and become a soldier for Christ, a prayer warrior for peace? Who will be a man or woman of God and take up the spiritual arms of prayer and sacrifice? "Stir into flame the gift God has bestowed upon you. The spirit God has given us is no cowardly spirit but rather, one that makes us strong." (lTiml:6-7). Who will answer the appeal of Christ who calls out in the middle of the night: "Could you not watch one hour with Me?" (Matthew 26:40).

Scripture reminds us that Jesus Himself frequently spent the whole night in prayer. Those who are willing to come out and meet Jesus in the middle of the night are the very ones who will bring about the New Day for all mankind, when there will be no more night, in fulfilment of the promise of Jesus to establish His reign of love throughout the world.