Homily for Thursday of the 3rd Week of Easter

In our first reading today, a devout pilgrim from Ethiopia, returning from a pilgrimage to the Jerusalem temple, stopped to read the Scriptures and was very touched by a passage in Isaiah. This led him to ask questions, which led to his receiving Baptism into the Church at the hands of Philip. Then, in the gospel passage, Jesus promised the bread that He would give for the life of the world; a clear reference to the Eucharist. God’s Word, Baptism, and Eucharist are strongly present in our readings today; each of them plays a part in nurturing the followers of Jesus.

In most parishes, the usual sequence is Baptism, God’s Word, and then the Eucharist. Most of us were baptized as infants; then introduced to Jesus through the gospels, with pieces of the Acts of the Apostles and the letters of St. Paul, and the great texts of the Jewish Scriptures. This led to our receiving Holy Communion. For the baptized, the connection between Word and Eucharist remains very strong.

At every Mass, we first have the Liturgy of the Word, and then the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The Word nourishes our faith, and it is out of that nourished faith that we come to the Eucharist. The bread of the Word prepares us for the bread of the Eucharist. The bread of the word is a necessary first course, as it were, preparing us to receive the Eucharist well.+

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