This homily was given at Our Lady, Queen of Peace Parish, Salem, OR on the Eighteenth Friday in Ordinary Time, August 5, 2022.
It was a woman in a garden who first tasted death.
The serpent promised her life: if she would only take and eat that one fruit that God had forbidden, she would become like God and enjoy the fullness of life without end.
But when she bit into that fruit, she tasted the bitterness of death.
And we, poor, banished children of Eve, know that taste all too well.
Death, in this world, comes wrapped in the trappings of life.
The serpent whispers, “If you want to live to the full, seize life for yourself.”
“Come on. Grab on to what you can get: this relationship, that vacation time, this new car, that big project at work…”
But the serpent is a liar.
And all our attempts to procure life for ourselves turn to dust and ashes in our mouth, and only leave us feeling emptier than before.
Life, true, everlasting life, comes to us in disguise … as death.
Jesus’ life was a constant death, from the wood of the manger to the cross.
Rather than grasping, He poured Himself out, giving Himself away out of love, reckless of the cost, to his last breath, to his last drop of blood.
And He, whose battered, broken body would have been death’s greatest prize … rose from the tomb, the conqueror of death.
The dark kingdom could not contain such abundant life, any more than a shadow can swallow up the sun.
Today, at this Holy Mass, as we receive the Body of Jesus, the Bread of Life, ask Him to share with us the secret of that life, of giving ourselves away.
As we follow Jesus in His way of living by dying, we no longer taste the bitter taste of death, but the sweetness of life without end.