The Power in the Name of Jesus Christ

by Father Brian J. Soliven on Sunday July 7, 2024

When I was in junior high, I started to despise going to Sunday Mass. When I heard my parents footsteps walking towards my room in the morning to wake me up, I would pretend I was in a deep sleep, “Brian it’s time to get ready for church.” I didn’t answer. Fifteen minutes later, my mom would knock on my door again, “Are you still sleeping? Get up!” Still no answer. Ten minutes later, my dad would come in, “GET UP NOW!” That’s when I knew the battle was lost. This routine would go on for months, as I tested the strength of my parents' resolve until I finally won. I simply did not want to go to Mass; end of story. If you were to ask me why, I would have told you simply, “Because Mass is boring!” 

Many of us can easily fall into the same mindset well beyond junior high. We don’t like the Mass for one reason or another. I don’t like the music. I don’t like the people. Father’s homily goes too long or too short. He spoke too much about politics; he spoke too little about politics. I don’t like his vestments. It’s too warm in the church or too cold (yes it’s common to get both complaints at the same Mass!). Whatever the reason, it can be my ego at the center. We can easily forget who should be our laser focal point, namely Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist. Regardless of how I subjectively feel that day or how justified my complaint can be, we can easily be distracted from the mind boggling gift that is offered to us. Strip everything else away, Jesus comes to us at every single celebration of the Mass in that little piece of “bread” and the sip of “wine.”

In the Gospel, we are told the sad story of Jesus' homecoming. He returns to the town he grew up in. These were his neighbors, his friends, the same people that knew him personally by name. He tried to teach them the ways of God but they scoffed in his face “and they took offense at him.” They refused to accept him because their egos simply would not allow them to see the beautiful truth. God had come down in their midst, walking literally among them. “Imposible!” they thought. The Gospel concludes, “(Jesus) was not able to perform any mighty deed there, on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.” (Cf. Mark 6:6). To have faith requires me to look deeper than what my eyes can penetrate. The Christian must gaze with more than their physical eyes which are easily susceptible to distraction and my own preconceived notions of what reality should be. Faith is ultimately rooted in trust, not in our own powers but in God’s Word. “I am the bread of life.” He tells us in John’s Gospel. “Whoever eats this bread will live forever.” If that happens at every single Mass, then that is simply enough for me. Regardless of the music, the topic of the homily, the temperature of the room, or anything else, just give me Jesus in the Eucharist.