Click to hear Audio Homily
Most newborn babies weigh between 6 to 9 lbs. Imagine, two pounds...that’s what the twin sisters Brielle and Kyrie each weighed when they were born 12-weeks premature. In the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) their doctors placed them in separate incubators immediately after birth. Kyrie was doing well, but Brielle was not. After about a month, Brielle was in trouble, in danger of death and doctors ran out of options. As a desperate measure, a nurse placed Brielle in the same incubator as Kyrie. Something surprising happened; Kyrie placed her tiny arm over her sister as to embrace her. Immediately, Brielle’s heart rate returned to normal, her temperature stabilized, and her breathing became regular. Kyrie’s embrace and presence saved her sister. Now the girls are grownup and healthy, 20 yr. old women.
We all need a loving presence in our lives; without that presence, life becomes hard to face, we lose direction, and life seems chaotic. In the Gospel the past couple of Sundays, we read about Jesus awakening the true hunger in those who flocked to see him merely for miracles. Last week, Jesus urged people not to work for the food that perishes but for food that endures for eternal life. This week, Jesus reiterates what he said last week, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” But people were incredulous and full of doubt. Therefore, Jesus had to admonish them, “Stop murmuring among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day.” Jesus longed to fill their deepest hunger--their hunger for the presence of God in their hearts. But they were resisting because they doubted Jesus.
An elderly man recently said to me, “I was told by someone in a 12-Step Program that I was born with a God-sized hole in my heart.” The man explained that he squandered most of his younger life in trying to fill that hole with something else. Then one Sunday, he received Eucharist for the first time in a long time. He returned to the pew, crying like a baby. He felt that God loved him deeply. It was as though God embraced him, like Kyrie embraced her sister in the incubator. His restless heart finally returned to normal. His deepest hunger --his desire to be united to God--was satisfied. Then he felt a profound desire--that he must love just as God loved him. But to get to that point in his spiritual life, he had to make changes in his life.
It is not enough to experience the close presence of Jesus. Jesus prompts us to cooperate and to change our lives. I remember there was a period in my life when I returned to attending mass. However, on some Sundays I missed because I would go out Saturday night for dancing and not get home until early Sunday morning. I had to change and give up my old ways.
Are you hungering for that embrace and presence of Jesus? Or do you doubt that Jesus is the one who can fill your life? Jesus invites you today, despite your doubts about him, to place your trust in him. Approach him in the Eucharist with the following prayer, “Jesus I hunger for your love. Come in to my heart. You are the only one who can satisfy my hunger.”
-Fr. Paul Yi