August 22 Reflection

Reflecon by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson

I know from a televised ad that the old classic TV show “Kids Say the Darndest Things” has been revived for our time. No wonder, because children never change in their power to shake us adults up with their perception and com- mentary on all sorts of things.

Such is that gift that it provokes a fond memory for me from my days as a pastor while visiting the parish schoolchil- dren. On one occasion, I was with the second graders, giving what I thought was a good attempt to teach a point of our faith. So when a little arm went up in response to my asking for comments, I was eager to hear one. I called on the little one, who promptly excitedly informed me thus: “I saw a dead bird once!”

Well, there went my hopes about my teaching’s effect, com with a large dose of humility innocently delivered. I swallowed my laughter, lest the little one be hurt. The num- ber of deceased fowl kept rising before I brought it all to a stop. Later, the teacher and I laughed.

How is this is related to the unexpected crowd reaction to Jesus’ announcement   of the Holy Eucharist? It is the way the crowd that followed Jesus changed the subject. Formerly entranced by His every word, they suddenly changed their minds and gave Jesus their backs because of what he said about eating and drinking His Body and Blood.

That turnaround must have hurt Him just because He was a man “like us in all things.” What was the turning point? The people only heard Him say “Cannibalism!” For them, this was a definite shock.

And for the sake of all those who rush to declare in our own time that Christ was only speaking symbolically, please note that Jesus never retracted one word. Nor did he ever say “I mean this only as a symbol, and not literally.” Obviously, the Holy Spirit wants us to take His word quite literally.

Then, turning to the chosen Twelve, whose backs were not yet turned, His sad inquiry: “Will you also walk away?” I imagine here a collective brief silence. But then St. Peter, who often enough was quite capable of saying “the darndest things,” offered his beautiful and faith-filled answer: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that You are the Holy One of God.” Peter’s answer should well be ours. It makes for a fine prayer in times of doubt.

We must always think of the Eucharist, framed by the Holy Mass, as our great gift. Covid 19 forced us out of our ac- customed ways of celebrating. In these “post Covid” days we have an opportunity to review our appreciation of what Christ through the Church has given us. We can check up on our habits of respect owed to the Most Blessed Sacrament. After all, we’re no longer watching it at home wearing pajamas. Certainly not with the parish community, which is an essential component of public worship.

Adding to our joy is seeing (and sometimes hearing) the little ones amid us, who are always good for a laugh, often via what they say. Here are two among many I came across:

A catechist was studying the Ten Commandments. They were ready to discuss the last one. The teacher asked if anyone could tell her what it was. Susie raised her hand, stood tall, and quoted, “Thou shall not take the covers off thy neighbor’s wife.”

(My favorite laugh-getter): The children were lined up in the cafeteria of an elementary school for lunch. At the head of the table was a large pile of apples. Sister Mary made a note and posted it on the apple tray. “Take only ONE, God is watching.” Moving further along the lunch line, at the other end of the table was a large pile of chocolate chip cookies. A child had written his own note and posted it near the cookie tray: “Take all you want. God is watching the apples.