Do I have the courage to see the real Christ in our world today? Do I ask and actually receive the grace to let go of that which prevents me – my own sins and anxieties – from the desire to live as Christ for others in our midst? Do we allow Christ to open our minds and our hearts to where He teaches love? Can we be fearless and new as Easter people? Can our Church serve in the way Christ calls which may be different than where we are comfortable? Can our faith move from invisible to invincible?
Let us share a meal with Christ in the Eucharist today, receive Him fully and without fear, and then go out and renew ourselves, our friends and families, and especially our broken communities with that love of Christ living in and between us.
I believe that appreciation is a holy thing – that when we look for what’s best in a person we happen to be with at the moment, we’re doing what God does all the time. So, in loving and appreciating our neighbor, we’re participating in something sacred.
When, in the Second Book of Kings, Elisha is welcomed by a wealthy Shunamite woman, she recognizes his identity as a representative of God and honors him for that reason. The woman finds meaning in her own ability to offer the prophet a little room on the roof with a bed table, chair and lamp. And because she honors a man who serves the Lord, she will find blessing: Elisha tells her, This time next year you will be fondling a baby son. Although she may not believe in the same God as Elisha, one could imagine that the woman’s rejoicing might echo Psalm 89, which expresses a hope that God will follow through on God’s promises: The promises of the Lord I will sing forever; my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness. The psalmist finds meaning in his community’s relationship with God, a relationship he celebrates in joyful song: in the light of yourcountenance, O Lord, they walk.
The Incarnation of Jesus brings a new degree of meaning to the lives of Christians. In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus tells his apostles that if they recognize that their lives are intended for the service of others, if, in other words, they lose their life for Jesus’ sake, then they will find meaning in him through love and service to all. As Paul reminds the Romans, they have been baptized into Jesus’ death, buried with him that they might live in newness of life. Jesus died and rose so that all mankind would know the love God has for them; the apostles are to ensure that all receive this tremendous gift, and so are we – with lives dedicated to Christ, lives lived for God in Christ Jesus. There is no greater source of meaning in our lives than this.
The prophet Jeremiah was long considered the author of the Book of Lamentations, part of which was set to music by Argentinian composer Alberto Ginestera in 1946, in a piece entitled Hieremiae prophetae lamentationes (opus 14). Jeremiah is said to be lamenting the destruction of the city of Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians, which Jeremiah had prophesied.
O VOS OMNES
O, all you who pass this way,
Behold and see if there be any sorrow
like my sorrow;
For the Lord has afflicted me,
as He said in the day of his raging anger.
See, Lord, I am troubled,
my bowels writhe in anguish,
my heart is turned within me,
for I am full of bitterness:
abroad the sword destroys,
and at home is death.
For that reason I lament,
and my eye pours down water;
for the consoler, who may renew my soul,
is taken from me;
my sons are desolate,
for the enemy grows victorious.
Persist in fury,
and crush them under the heavens, Lord.
EGO VIR VIDENS
I am the man who sees my poverty
under the rod of His indignation.
He has led me away
and suspended me in darkness,
where no light is.
He has made my skin and flesh old,
and has broken my bones.
He has put me in dark places,
like those long dead.
But whenever I cry out and plead,
He shuts out my prayer.
And I said: my strength has perished,
and my hope, because of the Lord.
Remember, Lord, what has befallen us;
look and consider our disgrace.
Turn us back to you, Lord,
and we shall come back:
renew our days as in the beginning.
You, however, Lord, forever will remain,
your throne for generations and generations.
To hear Alberto Ginestera’s Lamentation of Jeremiah performed by the World Youth Choir, click here. For the original text in Latin, click here.
One way to pray in a fear-filled world is to choose love over anxiety to open the door of the heart to dwell in the intimate presence of the One who loves us. When we begin to understand at a deep, spiritual level that we live surrounded by love and communion with God no matter what the external circumstances, we can let go of the fear that lurks on the outskirts of our minds. Hardly a day passes in our lives without an experience of inner or outer fears, anxieties, apprehensions, and preoccupations. We do not have to live in fear. Love is stronger than fear. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear (1 Jn 4:18).
God in Christ has gone himself into all the depths of what it means to be human. He has experienced for himself our suffering, our fears. And because he did so, when we descend into the depths of what we fear the most, we will find him waiting for us.
Priests are called father because they are life-givers in the spiritual order. Spiritual fathers protect their children; they teach them; they are there for them; and at the limit, they even give their lives for them…
Jesus gathered around himself a band of Apostles whom he shaped according to his own mind and heart and whom he subsequently sent on mission. Priests, down through the centuries – from Augustine and Aquinas to Francis Xavier and John Henry Newman to John Paul II and [our] own pastor – are the descendants of those first friends and apprentices of the Lord. They have been needed in every age, and they are needed today, for the kingdom of heaven must be proclaimed, the poor must be served, God must be worshiped, and the sacraments must be administered.
On World Refugee Day 2020, let us remember that the members of the Holy Family were once refugees. By some reports, almost 70,000 migrant children were held in US government custody apart from their parents in 2019. Today there are refugees all over the world in need of our prayers and support. To read more about ways you can help, visit the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website, here.
How do our struggles prepare us to turn in love to God?
The prophet Jeremiah’s experience is painful. Rejected by the community he loves because he proclaims a message no one wants to hear, Jeremiah is set upon, struck, even thrown in stocks by the temple priest. Even his friends are on the watch for any misstep he might make. But Jeremiah does not lose hope in God who will ultimately vindicate him: the Lord is with me, like a mighty champion, Jeremiah says. it is to the Lord that Jeremiah hasentrusted his cause. Jeremiah’s plight is echoed in Psalm 69, where the psalmist acknowledges that he bears insult for the Lord’s sake; he has even become an outcast to his brothers, a stranger to his children. But, like Jeremiah, the psalmist counts on the Lord’s redemption: the Lord hears the poor, and his own who are in bonds he spurns not.
When, in Matthew's Gospel, Jesus prepares the Twelve to go forth, he recognizes that they too will meet opposition. However, his counsel to them is, Fear no one! No one can destroy both soul and body except the God who brought them into existence; if God is conscious of the life of a mere sparrow – not one falls to the ground without the Father’s knowledge – then how much more does God cherish every moment of suffering faced by God’s faithful? The Twelve are to proclaim all that Jesus has whispered to them, aware that God’s love for them is more powerful than anything. They may thus face any hardship, even death, knowing life is on the other side, in eternal redemption.
Sometimes our opposition comes from within. In his Letter to the Romans, Paul assures that community that the grace of God is more than we can possibly measure: the gift is not like the transgression. Sin is our inability to open ourselves to God, to allow God to enter in, but God’s grace is greater than sin, though sometimes our struggles are themselves a vehicle of grace. God calls us to life without end, to love without limits; we, for our part, are to trust in all humility in God’s grace, knowing, like Jeremiah, like the psalmist, like the Twelve, that, as fragile and incomplete human beings, we need God’s grace and great love at every moment of our lives.
Whenever we come together around the table, take bread, bless it, break it, and give it to one another saying, The Body of Christ, we know that Jesus is among us. He is among us not as a vague memory of a person who lived long ago but as a real, life-giving presence that transforms us. By eating the Body of Christ, we become the living Christ and we are enabled to discover our own chosenness and blessedness, acknowledge our brokenness, and trust that all we live we live for others. Thus we, like Jesus himself, become food for the world.
Jesus has remained with the Eucharist for love… of you. He has remained, knowing how men would treat him… and how you would treat him. He has remained so that you could eat him, so that you could visit him and tell him what’s happening to you; and so that you could talk to him as you pray beside the Tabernacle, and as you receive him sacramentally; and so that you could fall in love more and more each day, and make other souls, many souls, follow the same path.
Jesus offers himself as food for the soul. There is a great truth revealed in the bread of life discourse: it is the law of the gift. This personal, incarnating God wants to be eaten and drunk, to be radically and fully for the other. […]
This God who shows us that he is totally love, and who wants us to eat and drink him in, is the God who wants us to be like him. As he is food and drink for the world, so we must be food and drink for the world. As he gave himself away utterly, so we must give ourselves away fully.
Participating in Mass and receiving the Eucharist is an act of faith, an affirmation of the mystery that God, through Christ, understands each of our deepest hungers and wants to feed us. And then wants us to go forth and feed others. But getting to the table, summoning the humility and courage to receive the nourishment that’s been set before us isn’t always simple. And sometimes, the food is hard to recognize.
Every time we participate in Eucharist, we are transformed. It’s not surprising that, when we can’t receive communion in the context of liturgy, we feel unsettled: to share in the Body and Blood of Christ during Mass is to move beyond the isolation we create for ourselves and into a sharing in and participating in each other’s lives. In John’s gospel, Jesus tells the Jewish crowds that they will be called to eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood as a way of participating in Jesus’ life – this is how we remain in him and he in us. In this way he is the living bread that came down from heaven, a source of eternal life for those who allow Eucharist to transform them, nourishing a life that is other-centered. Eucharist is the means by which we have life because of Jesus; consequently, if God dwells in us and loves us, then we are to reveal that love to the world.
The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ dates back to the thirteenth century; it is a celebration of God’s gift of his Son, who was born, suffered and died, yet remains with us. God has always been feeding God’s people. Yet, unlike the manna with which God fed the people of Israel in the Book of Deuteronomy, Eucharist is an eternal, unceasing gift of life, flesh and blood that nourish us spiritually, targeting our hearts, our souls, our very lives. And so, as Paul writes to the Corinthians, to bless the cup of blessing constitutes our participation in the blood of Christ just as breaking bread is a participation in his body. It is true that, as Psalm 147 states, God fills us with the best of wheat, for which we are called to praise the Lord – but Eucharist is so much more! Ultimately, it is a call to transformative union: because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf, Paul writes. We are not meant to leave the Eucharistic table the same as we arrived; we are to be transformed, changed, united as one people, intentional and aware of his life within us, ready to bend for the sake of other, to suffer if need be, that all might be one in the Body of Christ.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Ah. We are safe. What we find flowing from that ineffable Trinity is grace, love, and fellowship. We are welcomed, and received, and empowered. It is like arriving in heaven. Indeed. it is, says the Church: the liturgy is the clearest picture you will have on earth of how things appear in the City of God. And it is even more than mere picture: it is pledge [sacrament], that is, foretaste.
And also with you.
Here in the liturgy, as the celebrant greets us with the grace, love, and fellowship of the Holy Trinity, we find that this charity coming from the celebrant calls forth our own fervent wish that he, too, may know this grace, love, and fellowship.
In the Trinitarian nature of God, individuality and communality are related in a beautiful life-giving dance of creation. Whatever names we choose to use: Father, Son and Holy Ghost, Holy Parent, Holy Child and Holy Spirit, Creator, Redeemer and Advocate, the three aspects remain distinct while the identity remains one through mutual relatedness of receiving and giving. Back and forth together throughout time. Maybe this is not some dusty doctrine, but the holy fecundity of a God who pours out God’s own communal self into the creation.
This image of the relational dance of God with God’s self is wide enough to include us, the created. Non relational images of God do not allow room for us, but the mutual indwelling of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit offers us and all creation the divine space in which to live into the fullness of our identity as beloved children of God.
--Nadia Bolz-Weber, Some Thoughts on the Holy Trinity