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FAITH IS NOT OPTIONAL!


Cynthia Battle

Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ

For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains

in me and I in him" (Jn. 6:51-58).


On this solemnity of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ (Corpus Christi),

we listen again to the Bread of Life discourse found in John's Gospel. We read the words, and we listen to the words, but the question is, do we believe the words? In the Pew Study of 2019, it was reported that 69% of people who identify as Catholic do not believe in the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus in the Eucharist. I often wonder how that is possible. If we can't "buy into" this core belief, how can we call ourselves Catholic? This is what separates us from our other sisters and brothers in Christ. The answer is faith. Faith is this wonderful gift from God. Where is it? How strong is it? How many times do we hear Jesus say, "Your faith has saved you" or "You have little faith"?


So, I began to look back, a Sankofa moment, if you will. Many African Americans identify with the Hebrews of the Old Testament. They were enslaved people. Even though they bitched and groaned, they still had faith and trusted God. God fed them with manna and continued to take care of them. It was their faith in God that sustained them for the 40 years they wandered in the desert. Oh yes, our faith will be challenged. Even Moses had doubts.


Our ancestors had to endure similar hardships during those 200 years of slavery. I truly believe that the only way they survived was through their faith in God. It was that faith that gave them the strength to seek a better life. All through the "Jim Crow" era and the Civil Rights movement, it was their faith in God and the Holy Spirit that guided them. We face some of the same obstacles. We must stand firm in our faith in God's Holy Spirit. We cannot let the obstacles of racism and divisiveness weaken our faith. Just as God raised Harriet Tubman and Dr. King, there will be another.


What has all this to do with Jesus' divinity in the Eucharist? Everything! It is the same faith that gets us through tough times, the same faith that we celebrate in good times, and the same faith that allows us to thank God for all he does. It is that same faith that lets us know that without God, we are nothing; the same faith that lets us profess that Jesus is God. It is from that faith that we believe that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. There is no Scripture, Church Doctrine, or Theological Teaching that can replace Faith. They can only support it.


Faith is not optional!


Triune God, you created me in your image.

Fill me with the gift of faith.

That I may live by faith to fulfill the mission.

Amen!


Author: Cynthia Battle, Director of Faith Formation, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Presently, President of Washington DC, Catechetical Leaders Association

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