Thus says the LORD… Heed me, and you shall eat well, you shall delight in rich fare. Come to me heedfully, listen, that you may have life. (1 Kg 3:5,9,10)
Heedfully is not a term we use in daily conversation. You won’t tell your children to do their homework “heedfully” although perhaps you should, since besides teaching them a new word you would be telling them to be especially attentive to their assignment. However, perhaps it is best that we don’t use this word too often in common speech. In this way we can reserve it for Sacred Scripture and for God’s use in encouraging us to be especially attentive to him.
This week (August 3rd) we are reinstituting some of our overnight Eucharistic Adoration hours so that we may be heedful of the Lord. Throughout the pandemic our parish church has been open every day for prayer before the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle. Many have availed themselves of this opportunity. However, our parishioners and Eucharistic friends have been ever eager to return to the contemplation of the Real Presence of the Lord fully exposed in our beautiful monstrance, thus to come to Christ “heedfully” that they may have a fuller life of grace.
In today’s first reading God calls us to be especially attentive in listening to him. If we want to know everything that God has to say, then we must listen to Jesus. Further, God calls us to his table telling us to “eat well” that we “may have life”. In our gospel reading Jesus signals this divine banquet in His “multiplication of the loaves”, a foreshadowing of the Holy Eucharist in which Christ offers His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity to all who believe that He can do this (and that He does do this at every Holy Mass). Now Eucharistic Adoration is not Holy Communion. It does not hold as high an honor as the substantial reception of Christ’s Sacred Body & Blood. Yet, Adoration has its own high office as a heedful waiting upon Jesus; a special devotion that upholds and increases in us the Eucharistic life we are called to live.
For this 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time we place on our bulletin cover a work by the Flemish painter Frans Francken the Younger entitled The Disputation of the Holy Sacrament, a work of oil and gold on copper. Francken came from a family of painters and his work varies from genre to religious to allegorical. We might say that this work is a Eucharistic allegory. It does not portray a classical myth or a historical event but a revelation of what is actually occurring during Eucharistic Adoration.
Francken was especially apt at creating lovely altarpieces. Here the church altar itself becomes the central feature of his painting. Francken lived during the latter part of the Protestant Reformation when the horizontal debate (which he paints here) over the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist was at its contentious height. Beside this argument Francken proposes in pigment the incontrovertible vertical truth: that Jesus is wholly present in the Blessed Sacrament. In fact, he paints this mystery as fully Trinitarian, such that the Real Presence of Jesus proceeds to us from the Father through the Holy Spirit. Francken even places the Blessed Mother and John the Baptist as witness to this truth, as he illuminates the Holy Host with the same brightness as the divine figures.
Let us be ever-heedful to the mystery of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Eucharistic Adoration.
-Steve Guillotte, Director of Pastoral Services