In Mercy Broken

Friday of the Third Week of Easter

May 10, 2019

Click here for readings

Today, in Mercy, John gives us the core teaching of the Eucharist. 

Jn6_56 eucharist

For many, it is a hard teaching. How can Jesus give us his flesh and blood to nourish us? How can mere bread and wine embody this gift?

Have you ever been profoundly hungry? For most of us, probably not in a physical sense. But what about your heart and soul?

Have you ever longed to be loved, understood, accepted, or valued?

Have you ever felt famished for peace, rest, comfort, security, or solitude?

Have you ever longed to be delivered from gnawing anxiety, depression, fear, sorrow or loneliness?

Jesus recognizes all our hungers. He desires to enfold them in his Healing Mercy. He unites us to himself in the sacred reality of Eucharist, made visible to us in bread and wine.

In Eucharist , these fruits of the earth are not simply symbols pointing to another reality. By the power of God, they become sacraments embodying the reality themselves.

This mystery is one that must be embraced by the heart and soul, not one only to be analyzed by the mind. By opening the deep hungers of our spirit to the healing presence of Christ in Eucharist, we will be fed in ways we could never have imagined. In Mercy, we will become sources of nourishment for the broken world around us.

Music: Bread of the World in Mercy Broken – Reginald Heber

 

The Unfathomable Gift

Tuesday of the Third Week of Easter 

May 7, 2019

Click here for readings

Today, in Mercy, the crowd demands a sign from Jesus “that they may believe” in him. They refer to their ancestral memory of when God sent manna to their forebears in the desert – a miracle that restored their faith.

bread of life

But although Jesus worked many wonders, he was not sent simply to be a “wonder worker”. The faith of the New Creation was not to be built on miracles but on sacrificial love.

Jesus tells the assembled crowd:

“ My Father gives you the true bread from heaven.
For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven

and gives life to the world.”

He is talking about himself, the ultimate gift of God, feeding not just the body but the spirit – giving new life to all Creation.

The sacrament of the Eucharist embraces this mystery and extends it through the ages. Embodied in the Sacred Bread, this mystery is also incarnated in the People of God as they believe, hope and love God’s Presence into the world.

As with all sacred mysteries, we cannot simply choose to believe as a rational act. This faith is not willed by us, but rather gifted to us, as Jesus says:

“ You cannot come to Me
unless the Father draw you.”

The crowd gathered around Jesus in today’s Gospel is asking  him for a sign before they will believe. Let us instead ask God for the grace  to open our hearts undemandingly to the deep gift of faith God wishes to give us.

Music: Bread of Heaven – Jessie Manibusan  (Lyrics below)

Bread of heaven, Savior broken,
cup of life outpoured;
we your people thirst and hunger.
Come renew us, Lord;
come renew us, Lord.

From the mountain, blessing spoken
where we came to pray;
with the simple truth before us:
love them in my name;
love them in my name.

From the garden dark with sorrow,
from the tears you wept,
bloomed the flower of salvation:
new life born of death,
new life born of death.

From the hill where love was lifted
on the heavy wood,
flow the blood and streams of mercy
where your Mother stood,
where your Mother stood.

From the tomb that could not hold you
in the dark of night,
broke that morning of redemption,
raising us to life,
raising us to life.

We Are the Body of Christ

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

     Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/091818.cfm

Today, in Mercy, Jesus tells us that we are his Body. How do we keep faith with this when the Body strains against its own parts? How do we look beyond human frailty to the vision of Christ?

No one can deny that the Church struggles with its peace and unity. The current reality of the Catholic Church is fraught with abuse, division and threatened schism. And these things are nothing new. Church history reads like a novel laced with intrigue, power plays, and gratuitous violence.

How are we to reconcile these realities with Jesus’ pronouncement in today’s Gospel?

I think we do so by acknowledging 

  • that the Living Church has not yet sifted out the chaff from the wheat
  • that the Body of Christ is still being crucified
  • that our discipleship consists in sharing the continuing act of redemption with Jesus

We strengthen ourselves for this sacred participation by our faithfulness to the Gospel, by our quest for meaningful Eucharist, and by our reverence for Christ’s presence in all Creation.

Pierre de Chardin saw the Body of Christ in cosmic terms which open our understanding and challenge us to an evolution of grace. He says:

“ No, the Body of Christ must be understood boldly, as it was seen and loved by St. John, St. Paul, and the Fathers. It forms in nature a world which is new, an organism moving and alive in which we are all united physically, biologically….

It is first by the Incarnation and next by the Eucharist that Christ organizes us for Himself and imposes Himself upon us.  Although He has come above all for souls, uniquely for souls, He could not join them together and bring them life without assuming and animating along with them all the rest of the world. By His Incarnation, He inserted Himself not just into humanity but into the universe which supports humanity, and He did so not simply as another connected element, but with the dignity and function of a directing principle, of a Center toward which everything converges in harmony and Love.”
(de Chardin: La Vie Cosmique)

Music: Song of the Body of Christ ~ David Haas

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.