Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Friends,

Blessed Carlo Acutis was an Italian who died of leukemia on October 12, 2006.   He was 15.  He was a well-loved teenager who had a knack for computers.  He programmed computers, edited film, created websites and lay out, and edited comics.  He was gifted at anything related to computers, even adults with computer engineering degrees, considered him a genius.

One of his most significant computer ventures was to catalogue all the Eucharistic miracles of the world.  He started the project when he was 11 years old.  At that time he told his parents, “The more Eucharist we receive, the more we will become like Jesus, so that on this earth we will have a foretaste of Heaven.”  He then asked his parents to take him to all the places of the Eucharistic miracles.  After two and half years the project was completed.  Carlo researched over 136 Eucharistic miracles that have occurred over the centuries in different countries around the world, and have been acknowledged by the Church.  He collected them all into a virtual museum creating a website to house it.

Carlo was a normal teenager who was joyful, sincere, helpful, and loved having friends.  He also prayed in front of the Blessed Sacrament and went to Mass.  His biographer has written that he remains an inspiration to those who aren’t sure you can be both holy and normal.

Have you ever asked yourself, what does God want from me?  Maybe in a moment of frustration or darkness.  We sometimes forget that God wants faith, and trust, and reliance on Him.  Carlo knew this, the Israelites, however, didn’t know this.  The Israelites had been rescued from slavery.  They had experienced miracles.  They saw with their own eyes what God had done for them.  They had seen and experienced the 10 plagues; they had seen and experienced the parting of the Red Sea, walking between walls of water on dry land.  They had seen the miracles, but yet they grumbled and complained and wanted to go back to slavery.  They grumbled complaining, “Does God know what he’s doing?  Does he have a plan?  Did he bring us out here to kill us?”

Do we ever ask these same questions?  What is God doing?  Does He have a plan?  We are like the Israelites, we are on a pilgrimage, this is the desert, this is not home, do not get comfortable this is not our home.  We are on a pilgrimage just like the Israelites in the desert.

Now to remind the Israelites of his presence and to feed them he gave them the daily gift of Manna, that miraculous bread from Heaven.  The word Manna in Hebrew means, “What is it?”  Now there are two things to note about Manna.  First, once the Israelites reached the Promised Land the Manna stopped.  No more Manna, once they were in the Promised Land they didn’t need it.  And second, the Manna was not just to eat, but also to be adored, they had a tent called the tabernacle, and inside Manna was kept, they called it God’s presence in our midst.

The Israelites had Manna for their pilgrimage in the desert and we have the Eucharist.  The Eucharist is our pilgrim food for the journey, when we get home, we will no longer need it.  But here we need it.  Someone once said, to not go to Mass is to die of hunger while sitting next to an ever available banquet.   The Eucharist is to be consumed and adored.   Carlo wrote on his website, “Our aim has to be the infinite and not the finite.  The Infinite is our homeland.  We have always been expected in Heaven.”  This is not our home, Heaven is our home, Heaven is our Promised Land.

If ever we are tempted like the Israelites to ask, “God what are you doing?  Do you have a plan?”  Look to the incarnation and life of Jesus, born a man into poverty, suffering and dying on a cross and then resurrecting three days later.  That was not the end, God has a plan, he is not weak, He knows what he’s doing.  Then beg for an increase in faith, beg for an increase in faith.

I want to end with two things to do and three things to be.

Two things to do:

  1. Come to Sunday Mass every week, our Lord gives to us Himself in the Eucharist, when we don’t feed on Him we become weak and we struggle in our faith.
  2. Come to Mass during the week, this is a way to grow in faith, something changes in us the more we feed on God.

And now three things to be.

  1. Be daily in the presence of the Crucifix, a reminder of what God has done for us.
  2. Be daily in His word, a reminder of what he has promised us and not promised us.
  3. Be weekly in the presence of our Lord in the Eucharist, St. Joseph is open until 5 everyday, St. Philip has the adoration chapel. We have adoration all day Friday, Monday night (St. Joseph), and Thursday night (St. Joseph).

Carlo Acutis once wrote, “To always be close to Jesus, that’s my life plan.”  As Christians to always be close to Jesus that’s our life plan too.  Let us pray for the grace to not forget.

Let us be great Saints,

Fr. Christopher J. Ankley