We can do one and the same thing in various ways and with various attitudes: we can perform a task rushing about in a hurry or with calm and composure, we can do a friend’s bidding with joy or grudgingly, we can entrust someone with responsibility with confidence or fear that something will go wrong. The ability to consistently do what is right, and do it with the attitudes appropriate to the situation, is what we call virtue.
Such virtues are necessary in hunting. It is not the hunter with the best weapon and the best clothing or camouflage who has success, but above all the one who can attend to the was of nature and the animals, who can recognize nature’s changing moods, and who has the patience to wait for the right moment.
A hunter has to wait for the right moment, to accept his own limits. Even the expert cannot assure success on a given day. Sometimes it is granted as one is finishing for the day and going home. Or, in turn, a sudden fog or change of wind can steal away an apparently assured game.
Not all of us are hunters, but we are all pursuing a variety of things: security or success in life, recognition, friendship, love… here, too, interior attitudes count more than exterior presuppositions. Not he attains happiness, who has the most money from his parents or grandparents, or the best education, but who can attend to himself and to others, who recognizes himself honestly, with strengths and weaknesses, and with humility and confidence puts them to work, and last but not least, indeed of greatest importance, he who can recognize the tracks, the gestures, and the words of God in his life, and follows them. Sometimes he speaks quietly, and we can easily overhear him. Sometimes he comes close, intervenes in our life, to draw out attention. Sometimes he distances himself, to rouse us.
According to the legend, Jesus Christ appeared to Hubert in the form of a deer. Hubert had an interior conversion, and from that point on viewed hunting in the greater context of the pursuit of the true meaning of life happiness, found in God’s plan for us.
So are we all called, whether or not hunters in the usual sense, to have open eyes and ears when God speaks to us, and to see our activities, responsibilities, interests and desires in the context of his plan, in which we are called, in various ways, to serve him, to serve the Church, to serve mankind in Christ Jesus, who came not to be served but to server.
Holy Communion is given us to strengthen us in this vocation. One who really wants and allows it, will be changed, transformed by this sacrament. The life of Jesus, the fullness of life, can become more and more my life, the more frequently, or rather and above all, the more intensely I united myself with him and receive him. The fruit is very much dependent on myself, whether I permit such a transformation. God does not force me, he makes a generous offer, comes to me under the appearance of bread. I can receive him out of habit, carelessly, and go my way. I can ignore it altogether, as so many, indeed the majority, who no longer even consider it worthwhile to attend Mass on Christmas and Easter (no wonder, that the sacraments of Christ and the Church do little to change their lives for their better, when they are so despised), or I can be open for the mystery of the Eucharist, strive to receive with great faith, love, and devotion, and then amazing things can happen in my life.
If we accept Christ’s offer of himself in this sacrament, we have a twofold task: to receive the Body of Christ, and to be open to him and amenable to his working in us; to thereby become the body of Christ, the Church, sacrament in the world for the life of the world. The many persons who do not understood or believe in the sacraments of the Church, may come to faith through us. If they can grasp the presence of the body of Christ in and through us, the Church, can perceive Christ living in us, they can through us come to faith in this sacrament too, to believe that the living Christ is truly present in this Most Holy Sacrament.
This homily was held in 2018 at a Mass with the hunting club of Eggendorf, reconstructed and translated from notes and memory.