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August 17, 2003

"Life Within Us"

John 6:51-58

Good morning and welcome everyone. It's good to be back in New Mexico. Last week, I spoke in Santa Fe at the Pax Christi evening of prayer and reflection and then on Wednesday, August 6th, Catholics from around the state went to Los Alamos to pray for peace, nuclear disarmament and the abolition of our weapons of mass destruction on the 58th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima. But as you may have heard, a few months ago, the archbishop called me in and forbid me to pray for peace at Los Alamos, so I didn't go. But the "Albuquerque Journal" went, asked for me and wrote that I wasn't there, so they wrote about me. I didn't even go to Los Alamos and it was news. I'm in trouble but at least, it ain't dull. Life is exciting!

The Gospel tells us that Jesus is the bread of life, the living bread from heaven and that if we eat this bread, we will live forever; we will have life within us; we will be raised to the new life of resurrection; we will remain in Jesus and we will have life because of the God of life. So the main invitation is to live life to the full right now. So I want to say a word about life, Jesus, and living life in Jesus.

The Gospel calls us to have life within us, which means, no matter what our problems are, with our families, or at work, or with our health, or with poverty, or with school, we are called to live, to come alive, to choose life, to live every day as a precious gift from the God of life, and to promote life, serve life, defend life, protect life, and share life with everyone, to live and let live, to be filled with the life of God inside us.

Apparently, there is plenty of life to go around for everyone. It's not like there is a faucet in heaven, which God turns on for some people who deserve life and off for others who don't, as if there's not that much life to go around. There is plenty of life for everyone, and God wants everyone to live and have the fullness of life within us and cherish our lives and every human life, indeed all life on the planet.

Second, the Gospel says that the best way to live life to the full, to have life within us, is through Jesus. Traveling around the country these past few weeks, I was thinking that we will never find the fullness of life in this culture, which the pope calls "the culture of death." Whether its the government or TV or the movies or power or fame or the military or nuclear weapons or Wall Street or being successful or making money, in the end, nothing fully satisfies us, nothing saves us, nothing gives us life.

The only way life makes sense, the only One who lived life to the full, the only One who can give us the fullness of life within us is Jesus. Without Jesus, we are lost. Without Jesus, in this culture of making it, we're out of it. Without Jesus, in this culture of death, we're dead. Without Jesus, the fullness of life is not possible. But with Jesus, everything is possible.

So the Gospel calls us to make Jesus the center of our lives, to think about Jesus, to talk about Jesus, to pray to Jesus, to study Jesus, to imitate Jesus, and to love Jesus in one another. So how do we live life to the full with Jesus? According to this text, we have to become so immersed in Jesus, that we think and eat and drink and breath in Jesus, and through the Holy Eucharist, through this bread and cup, actually become the body of Christ and put on the mind of Christ and remain in Jesus and enter into his life, the fullness life and share that life with one another.

So from now on, we not only say NO to the culture of death and its despair and violence and wars and injustice; we not only refuse to be mean or sexist or racist or cruel; we not only don't let death dwell within us; we receive the bread and the cup and live everyday more and more like Jesus, loving one another, being kind and gentle and compassionate, serving those in need, making peace, seeking justice, refusing to give in to the forces of death, even laying down our lives for one another and nurturing the flame of life within us. It's like we have a votive light within us because we have the life of God within us.

The good news today is that Jesus is not only the only way out of the culture of death, but the way in to eternal life, and eternal life doesn't begin some far off day when we enter through the pearly gates, it begins here and now, today, at this altar, as we receive the bread and cup of Jesus and enter the fullness of life from now on.

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