The Church, which we love, is going through many trials. These trials remind us that we need Jesus to take charge of our lives in a new and profound way.
Pope Benedict, when he was a cardinal, said this: "The Church will be reduced in its dimensions; it will be necessary to start again. However, from this test, a Church would emerge that will have been strengthened by the process of the simplification it experienced, by its renewed capacity to look within itself. . . .
"We must take note, with simplicity and realism. The mass Church may be something lovely, but it is not necessarily the Church's only way of being."
These words are worth some serious reflection. He has affirmed these thoughts over and over in speeches, interviews and writings.
The pope is telling us all we need a profound renewal — a deep simplification and purification. Is this not the case? Current statistics indicate that only 10 to 15 per cent of Catholics worldwide have a vital relationship with Jesus.
This should be a wakeup call. No wonder we are seeing so many scandals. Many of our members have no deep connection with Jesus.
Throughout history the Church comes alive when she is put under pressure. Today, more than ever, there is a spiritual pressure building around us, a pressure to become what we were made to be.
It is the Spirit of Jesus calling the Church to renewal. Mother Teresa used to say it so simply: "We are all called to be saints."
All of us have a duty to grow in an intimate, loving relationship with Jesus. He is the Way we must follow, the Truth we must integrate, the Life we must live. This is a duty for us all.
As the pope reminds us, in a certain sense we must "start again." This is the call to renewal. The call to look deep within and invite the Spirit of Jesus to revitalize our Church in a dynamic way.
In today's Gospel Jesus says, "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him" (John 6:56). The Body and Blood of Jesus call us into a deep, profound intimacy with Jesus.
St. John Eudes said, "Your most loving heart, O Jesus, dwells in this sacrament, burning with love for us."
When we receive the Eucharist we are literally saying "yes" to Jesus living his life in you and me. We are saying "yes" to the heart of Jesus in us. We are saying we want nothing more than to share in his life of love and become the saints we were created to be.
What if every Catholic took seriously the call to live the life of Jesus in our world today? What if we all put into practice Mother Teresa's challenging words, "Jesus is the life to be lived."
Imagine less of us and more of him. Imagine a people of deep prayer, worship and humility. Imagine disciples who take the Scripture and its revolutionary implications seriously. Imagine hearts burning with love for Jesus and all humanity.
This is the Church we are called to become. This is the Church of which Pope Benedict and others are speaking. This is our destiny, the reason the Church and Christianity exist on earth. We are the living light of Jesus. We are his hands, his feet, his eyes, his ears, his voice in the world today.
We must face, head on, our failures and open now to all Jesus wants to do in us and through us.
So when we receive the Body and Blood of Jesus this Sunday, let us say "yes" with Mary and all the saints who have gone before. Let us open ourselves to the living renewal of the Catholic Church and all of Christianity today. Now is indeed the time.