Dear Brothers and Sisters,
How important it is for us to remember, to have a memory of what God has done for us. The memory is the storehouse of the soul; in it we have all our experiences. Without a memory we cannot finish our sentence. Our memory helps us not to take things for granted. The pandemic brings to light many things like the Eucharist that we thought would always be possible. The ability to gather with family and friends we took as a given. In the life of faith we know that the Eucharist is not just to remember or to recall what Christ has done for us. It is much more than that. It is to re-present it, to re-enact it, to live it again in a sacramental, but in a real way. On your wedding anniversary you don’t just call to mind, oh, yeah, I’m married. You celebrate it, you renew your covenant, you gather people together because it is an important event.
This week we celebrate what God does for us. More specifically, we reflect that Christ comes always to nourish us. A pelican was a common image in the early Church. The pelican feeds its young by wounding itself and only in this way does it nourish its offspring. Christ gave his life to sustain us and he continues to offer himself for us every week. Finally, starting next weekend, we no longer have to do it virtually, but we can come physically the church to be fed by his Body and Blood.
The words of Christ are recorded for us. Don’t mess around with them; reflect on them, especially the ones we hear so often. “This is my body given for you.” He doesn’t say this is a symbol of my body, and the priest doesn’t say this is Jesus’ body; he says this is my body, not the priest’s but Christ’s. “This is my blood poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins…do this in memory of me.” I was shacking when I said those words at my first Mass, and for months afterwards, and then you and I tend to get used to them. This Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ gives us time to reflect on the awesome gift God gives us.
How stupendous the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fish must have been. To see how the bread and fish increased and kept increasing in the hand of the apostles would have been something unbelievable. They saw the chance to make Jesus king and make us prosperous. They could not make him king; he was born a king and he slipped out of the crowds. Perhaps this was the beginning of the betrayal of Judas. He was more interested in an economic king, not a messianic one. It was at the first Eucharist, their last Passover that he went to do his dirty deed.
Jesus corrects them the next day because they were looking for the wrong kind of bread, the one that perishes. They were looking for him but not to him. He said I will give you the bread of eternal life; the bread that is sealed by my Father. But the people said show us that your bread is greater than the one given by Moses. Jesus said it was not Moses that gave your ancestors that bread, but my Father. The bread I will give you is unto eternal life: I AM the Bread of Life. If you eat me you will never die. You will live forever. The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world. This bread is not just for a limited time to one group of people, but is offered to everyone, everywhere and all the time.
The gospel tells us that many disciples could not accept this saying and left. Jesus then asks Peter, and us: “Will you also go away?” Peter gives a remarkable answer, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of everlasting life!!” Peter makes a beautiful act of faith and humility. He gets it.
How is it possible for the creature to eat the creator? It is true we consume him but something more is going on. We are lifted up, taken up into God, into him; he heals us and perfects us and we share in his divine life. Don’t miss the beauty of what happens in every Eucharist and now that the churches are re-opening let us not take it for granted.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,