A Shocking Gift

Friday of the Third Week of Easter

May 1, 2020

Click here for readings

Dali
Institution of the Eucharist: Salvador Dali

Today, in Mercy, our Gospel is serious business. In it, Jesus reveals the lynchpin of our sacramental faith.

Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood,
you do not have life within you.
Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood
has eternal life,
and I will raise him on the last day.

It is a stark and shocking statement. The listening Jews “quarreled among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his Flesh to eat?’.”

Down through the ages, struggling believers have grappled with the same question. Or, perhaps less preferable, complacent believers have never even considered it.

I think Jesus wanted us to consider it, absorb it, be changed by it, live within it, because “unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you do not have life within you.”


Among the Christian denominations there is a range of interpretations of this teaching. 

Wikipedia has a very good summary. Click to read it.


As Catholics, we believe that Christ is truly and fully present in Eucharist and that, by Communion, becomes fully present in us, the Church.

When the Church celebrates the Eucharist, the memorial of her Lord’s death and resurrection, this central event of salvation becomes really present and “the work of our redemption is carried out”. This sacrifice is so decisive for the salvation of the human race that Jesus Christ offered it and returned to the Father only after he had left us a means of sharing in it as if we had been present there. Each member of the faithful can thus take part in it and inexhaustibly gain its fruits. This is the faith from which generations of Christians down the ages have lived.
(ECCLESIA DE EUCHARISTIA, Encyclical of John Paul II)


For me, it is a truth only appreciated when approached with more than the mind. It must be apprehended with the heart and soul. God so loves us in the person of Jesus Christ that God chooses to be eternally present with us, and in us, through the gift of Eucharist.

Praying with this truth over the years has led me to read authors like Edward Schillebeeckx (Christ the sacrament of the encounter with God), Diarmuid O’Murchu (Quantum Theology), and Pierre Teilhard De Chardin (Hymn of the Universe).

deChardin


But I will tell you that every time I receive the Eucharist, I let this little hymn play in my heart, one I learned for my First Holy Communion. It still unites my heart to my desired faith.

Music: Jesus, Jesus, Come to Me – sung by the Daughters of Mary
( I know the album art is not classic, but I can still believe I’m one of those little kids climbing into Jesus’s lap🤗. I think most of us are a mix of both unsophisticated and erudite theologies, so I hope you can enjoy this musical selection.)

Live in Love

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/081218.cfm

Eph 5_1 live in love

Today, in Mercy, our readings capture the essence of life in God through Christ.

The first reading from Kings tells how Elijah, after eating the food God had provided him, was able to endure the long journey to God’s mountain.

In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus makes clear that no one makes that journey into the heart of God unless God calls us. But Jesus says that the invitation is given to all who believe. He says that, just as with Elijah, the Father gives us food – Jesus himself – the bread of life.

The second reading from Ephesians says that we have already “been sealed for the day of redemption through the Holy Spirit.” Paul says that, given this amazing gift, we have only one job:

So be imitators of God, as beloved children,
and live in love,
as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us
as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.

We are so accustomed to hearing these astounding passages that we may miss how astounding they really are. But Macrina Wiederkehr says:

When Jesus’ words begin to sound naive to our 21st century minds, let us look through the words, in between the words, underneath for a deeper truth.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the great Jesuit mystical theologian, upon reading these passages,saw the mystery of the Body of Christ. He saw our call to be the heart of Christ in the world. He saw Christ’s promise to become one with us in Eucharist. He saw that, through this Infinite Love played out in our ordinary lives, God continues to redeem Creation.

In each soul,
God loves and partly saves the whole world
which that soul sums up
in an incommunicable and particular way.
~ The Divine Milieu ~

Music: Quintessence – Spencer Brewer

May this lovely instrumental piece help take us to a deeply prayerful place as we contemplate God’s gift in Jesus.

God Has Filled All Things Everywhere

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/050218.cfm

Today, in Mercy, we celebrate the feast of St. Athanasius who lived in 4th century Egypt. During his lifetime, the Church struggled with the heresy of Arianism which questioned whether Jesus was really God. Athanasius was named a Doctor of the Church for his steadfast defense of the doctrine of the divinity of Christ. Some of Athanasius’s writings are suggestive of the theology of our great modern theologians, and so necessary for our spirituality today.

The universe unfolds in God, who fills it completely. Hence, there is a mystical meaning to be found in a leaf, in a mountain trail, in a dewdrop, in a poor person’s face. The ideal is not only to pass from the exterior to the interior to discover the action of God in the soul, but also to discover God in all things. (Pope Francis-Laudato Sí, 84)

If we live at a distance from God, the universe remains neutral or hostile to us. But if believe in God, immediately all around us the elements, even the irksome, organize themselves into a friendly whole, ordered to the ultimate success of life. (Pierre deChardin, SJ – Christianity and Evolution)