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Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

Reflecting on John 6: 60-69

As I write this, the bells are ringing, calling the pilgrims who have traveled to the Martyrs’ Shrine in Midland, Ontario to prayer. The Jesuits came here to New France in the 1630s, to freeze and starve, to paddle canoes over thousands of miles of treacherous waterways, and to live and die in the camps of the Hurons. Eight Jesuits―six priests and two donnés, or lay helpers―were martyred here and in upstate New York.

We Americans know St. Isaac Jogues the best of the eight, because he was killed by an Iroquois tomahawk in New York and he left the most unbelievably vivid and brilliant journal of his life as a missionary to the Mohawks.

But here in Canada, St. Jean de Brébeuf is the most beloved of all those martyrs. He was a large, generous, extraordinarily loving man who lived with the Huron/Wendat for nearly twenty years. It is his name that the native converts called when they were sick and dying. And when the village where he was giving a mission was raided by the Iroquois one terrible night in 1649, instead of fleeing from the fires they said, “Come, let us die with him.”

And so they became eyewitnesses to the destruction, through hours of torture, of the body of the man who had baptized them, comforted them, nursed them through illness, and brought them to Jesus. Because of them we know that, in the end, his tormentors cut out his heart and consumed it, that they might have, in their own bodies, his strength and power.

Unless you eat my Body and drink my Blood you shall not have life within you.

I think I get it now.

In what ways does your reception of the Eucharist give you Jesus’ strength and power?

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I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Ordinary Time - Cycle B

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