of Creighton University's Online Ministries
June 26th, 2011
Larry Gillick, S.J.
Deglman Center for Ignation Spirituality
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.
We show our appreciation for musical and dramatic renditions by enthusiastic applause which can go on just a certain length of time. Who decides when the applause should begin to die down and cease? We all differ in our appreciation for the performance, perhaps those less impressed stopped clapping and that’s where it begins to stop. I have wanted often to keep slapping my hands together, but the silence around me would indicate I am a bit off.
As we prepare for the next Eucharistic liturgy, we might reflect a bit upon when and why did I stop being affected by the last Eucharist I celebrated with the community. The hands we extend to receive the Real Presence seem less open to receive life’s challenges, surprises, invitations. We can become less available, really present, less forgiving as time passes.
This kind of reflection is not to induce guilt, but rather an awareness of the patterns which result in Jesus’ being less available through my actions. We can pray peacefully with our desires to continue the applause for the Divine Performance.
We have been celebrating the Risen Christ these past Sundays of Eastertide. Today we celebrate the em-breaded and Rising Christ. One of the more consoling mysteries of our faith invites us to allow our “feeble senses” to fail as Aquinas wrote. Seeing usually leads to knowing. We see the breaking of the bread, the gestures, we hear the words, but instead of knowing we believe. For all that, there is something quite natural about this beyond-natural Gift.
There is a history-museum quality to our homes. People who love us give us real things to make their real love, memorable and as present as their love can be, seeing that they are not really present with you. They desire to stay while they have to move on. When we take the time to see, touch, taste, or hear them, they, and their love come back to us, and sometimes with even greater intensity than when the gift was given initially. We are invited once more to receive, both the gift, and what was embedded in that “thing”. To those who do not know the history, the “thing” is just a “thing” pretty or tasteful though it be. For those who are embedded in that circle of love, the “thing” is more than meets the eye.
In our First Reading, Moses calls to the minds and hearts of his people that they do have a history. There were some events of freeing, guiding and nourishing. God had given them a test of their faith for years in the desert. God gave them a good food which their ancients had never known. Their response to this giving God is their keeping the customs, commandments and laws which constituted them as God’s holy people. They were asked to remember who God has named them. Their history is sacred and when they reflect upon their pasts they will trust their futures.
The Gospel is but a few verses from a long chapter which begins with Jesus giving thanks for a mere five loaves and two fish and distributed these to the feeding of many. He had many followers after that historical event, but Jesus uses the event to attract believers to the beyond of His mission. He came that we all may have life and He uses bread here which has historical value for the Jews. Jesus reminds them that their ancestors ate bread from heaven and yet died according to the natural process. Jesus invites them all to believe that if they eat of Him, His whole person and mission, they will have eternal life.
John, in this Gospel, uses many “I am” statements such as “vine”, “Light”, and “Water”. Jesus asks the Jewish people to ingest Him for the Life that He is and is being given to the whole world.
One might interpret this text as a way of assuring a ticket into heaven. One might feel that all we have to do is receive the Eucharist under the species of bread and wine, and bingo, no further requirements. John is deeper than this. He presents Jesus as asking His listeners to take Jesus in to their lives as they take bread and wine into their bodies for nutrition and life. It is not a ticket-sale, but an invitation to our letting Jesus in so deeply that we become His Body and live as nourishment for others.
The Eucharist, His Body and Blood given for us, and given to us within a very simple and human context. There is neither magic here nor something scientifically provable. Jesus came and comes to give us life and here uses bread as the symbol of life. He leaves His friends, as we have to do and yet remains to accompany us, (with bread) in our life’s journeys. Somebody who loves you, leaves and yet leaves behind a silver plate. A stranger asks you to prove that the plate offers you a deep experience of being loved when you first received it and now as you receive it again. It cannot be proven! That love which you experience perhaps, anew, might be a proof in how your life reveals being so loved. The proof is in the putting on the outside what you have received inside.
Our histories are sacred, because His presence has been as real as life itself. Our “amens” may end the meal, but begin Christ’s infleshment in the sacredness of our lives. It is all simply wonder-full.
“The Lord fed His people with finest wheat and honey;
Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook