Sunday, June 18, 2017

June 18, 2017
We're spending less time in the kitchen than ever, certainly not the 30 hours a week that grandma spent toiling over a hot stove. But, we also are spending huge sums on kitchen gadgets that we seldom use. We’re bonkers! Which is also what many of Jesus' listeners said when he started talking about eating and drinking -- his flesh! At this point, they got out of the kitchen fast!

If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Apparently, a lot of people are doing just that.

Journalist Megan McArdle, in her article, "The Joy of Not Cooking," reports that the average woman in the 1920s spent about 30 hours a week preparing food and cleaning up. By the 1950s, she was doing this just 20 hours a week. Now, women average about five hours a week in the kitchen. And that's not because men are stepping in to help -- guys give only about 15 minutes a day to kitchen work!

Oddly enough, gourmet kitchens are on the rise at the very same time that people are fleeing the heat. Men and women are spending a ton of money on kitchen equipment that they rarely use.

A Viking stove costs $10,000. A Breville toaster oven runs $250. A Margaritaville Frozen Concoction Maker retails for $349. And a Shun chef's knife, with its own wooden display stand? $199. This is expensive kitchen equipment, being purchased at a time when more than a quarter of all meals and snacks are being consumed outside the home. Better break out some of those Bed, Bath & Beyond 20% off coupons!!

So, what's going on here?

McArdle believes that each expensive kitchen gadget "comes with a vision of yourself doing something warm and inviting: baking bread, rolling your own pasta, slow-cooking a pot roast." Gourmet kitchen equipment promises a warm and wonderful feeling, even if you rarely touch it.

Cooking has become a leisure activity for many Americans, instead of a daily job. And Helen Rosner, the online editor for Saveur, speaks of "the dudification of cooking." Guys are getting into cooking as a leisure pursuit, and buying a lot of high-end equipment for the relatively small amount of time they spend in the kitchen. Dude cookery, says Rosner, is all "fire, blood and knives."
In the gospel of John, Jesus uses a number of kitchen-based images to describe Himself and His mission from God. "I am the living bread that came down from heaven," He says, offering a warm, inviting and nourishing image of himself as the bread of life. But then His language changes: "Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

In a flash, the pleasant image of enjoying fresh-baked bread takes a turn toward the eating of human flesh. We're suddenly in the world of fire, blood and knives.

John has already told us that Jesus is the Word of God in human form, having said that "the Word became flesh and lived among us.” And we know that this Word made flesh was not destined to live a long and happy earthly life, because "just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”

Jesus is going to have to be lifted up on the cross, sacrificing his own flesh to bring us forgiveness and everlasting life, to which he alluded in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life."

Living bread. Word made flesh. Lifted on the bloody cross. Given for the life of the world.

In Jesus' kitchen we find God's recipe for everlasting life. But this kitchen gets hot. "The Jews" of our gospel reading begin to dispute among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" When Jesus spoke to them about "living bread," they had a sense of what He was talking about because they remembered the bread from God -- the manna -- that their ancestors had eaten in the wilderness. But his flesh? That didn't make any sense.

"Very truly, I tell you," says Jesus, "unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” His images have shifted from warm bread to something apparently more sinister. There is no longer any doubt that Jesus is going to have to give His flesh and shed His blood, and that His followers will need to eat and drink His sacrifice. Jesus is giving His whole self to us, and inviting us to eat Him up. Just reading or saying that can make one's skin crawl.
Obviously, and we should stress obviously, Jesus does not mean this in any literal sense of the language. There is no cannibalistic Jewish tradition His listeners would have understood. Thus their confusion. And they were not positioned spiritually to understand Jesus' word on any metaphorical level either. So many people, even some of those who were nominal disciples, left Jesus at this point thinking, "This teaching is difficult; who can accept it? This guy is nuts!" They left the kitchen.

Clearly, cooking with Jesus is not easy. This is understandable since kitchens have not always been pleasant places to be. In his book The Warmest Room in the House, Steven Gdula writes that kitchens used to be "as close an approximation to hell on Earth as one could find. They were hot, dirty, smelly, dangerous places, and the work done there seemed interminable."

Kitchens used to be hell on Earth. That's why Jesus entered the kitchen and baked the bread of life. Out of such a hell comes the promise of eternal life.
Consuming Jesus is not a leisure pursuit, one that can be done just a few minutes a day. Taking Jesus into ourselves is a full-time challenge, one that transforms us from the inside out. After all, "you are what you eat." "Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life," promises Jesus, "and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me.”

If we take Jesus into ourselves, we are given eternal life. Don't expect to understand it. Believe it and be grateful.
After so much talk of flesh and blood, Jesus returns to the image of bread. He says about Himself, "This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.” In the kitchen of Jesus, the ingredients of bread, flesh and blood all mix together. They form an unexpected meal, one that nourishes us spiritually and fills us with everlasting life.

The challenge for us is to stay close to Jesus, receive His nourishment and do His work in the world. This is not a leisure pursuit, one that can be done off and on. Jesus wants us to remain in the kitchen with Him, even when it gets hot.

We can begin by feasting on the words of Jesus. When Jesus asks the 12 disciples if they wish to go away, Peter answers by saying, "Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life.” The words of Jesus remain a source of solid spiritual food for us, whether Jesus is describing Himself as "the resurrection and the life" (John 11:25), or commanding us to "love one another" (John 13:34).

Since Jesus is the Word of God in human form, we can always be strengthened by what He says to us in the gospels. His words are trustworthy and true, and He remains for us "the way, and the truth, and the life" (John 14:6).

Next, we can be nourished by communion, the holy meal that includes the bread of life and the cup of salvation. On the night before His death, Jesus took a loaf of bread, broke it and gave it to His disciples, saying, "This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." After supper, he took a cup also, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me" (1 Corinthians 11:23-25).

Jesus instructs us to eat and drink of the bread and the wine to remember Him, or to honor Him. Receiving communion is an important way of living in Christ, and allowing Him to live in us.

Finally, we can go out to be the body of Christ in the world. Christians who feast on the words of Jesus and nourish themselves with communion become nothing less than the flesh-and-blood presence of Jesus in the world today. We can be the hands and feet of Jesus, whether we are young or old, male or female, white or black, liberal or conservative.

None of this requires a gourmet kitchen, filled with expensive equipment and gadgets. All that we need to do is keep cooking with Jesus, even when things get hot.
(I am changing up the prayer section after the sermon. Some of you are familiar with responsorial prayer, as it is common in some other churches. I want to start using it here also. I am placing it her after the sermon, which does differ in its placement from other churches, however. I decided to do this for a couple of reasons.
First, I want to open up the prayer piece to include more needs than just a long prayer devoted to the topic of the sermon. So, these prayers may only have a small amount of relationship to the sermon.
Second, and I think most importantly, this new form will draw YOU the congregation in more to the prayers and make you active participants in our petitions of our Lord. The Mass is about our worship of the Lord, not solely about the priest’s. So, going forward, feel free to bring to myself or Dc. Koko or Ab. Gentzsch a specific prayer need you may want inserted here, or you may still keep it private and put the need or person in the offering plate for me to offer during the Eucharistic blessing. Your choice.
So, either myself or Deacon Koko will read the petitions one by one (we know how much Abbot Gentzsch likes to read, so we will give him a pass). After each stanza, Dcn. Koko or I will say the words, “We pray to the Lord.” And everyone will respond, “Lord, hear our prayer.” Simple enough, right? Here we go!)
Let us pray.
For the Church, the Body of Christ; that we will deepen our devotion to the Eucharistic sacrifice which gives life to the world. We pray to the Lord.
That the redemptive power of Christ’s Eucharistic sacrifice will extend to the hearts and minds of those who govern. We pray to the Lord.
That Christians will give Gospel witness to what they receive in the most Holy Eucharist. We pray to the Lord.
For a blessing on all fathers on this Father’s day. We pray to the Lord.
For those who live in want; that Jesus the Bread of Life will be their sustenance, and that we will bring the mercy of Christ to all those in need. We pray to the lord.
For the families and the missing people from London’s tower fire; that the Lord will send the Holy Spirit as comfort in this time anguish. We pray to the Lord.
God Love You +++
+ The Most Rev. Robert Winzens
Pastor – St. Francis Universal Catholic Church
San Diego, Ca.