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Pastor's Letter 20220619 - 19 June 2022 - Sharing Life with Christ


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June 19th, 2022

Feast of Corpus Christi

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The Body and Blood of Christ

A Message from Father Michael

Today’s Theme:  

“Sharing Life with Christ” 

Reflections on Today’s Scripture

The whole passage (Genesis 14:1-24,) is an intriguing episode, appearing abruptly in the Genesis narrative.  Our selection (vs 18-20,) has been inserted into the story of Abraham’s encounter with the king of Sodom.  It is probably this “Melchizedek incident,” which explains the importance of the whole passage in the mind of the compiler, and the reason why it was included in Abraham’s story.  (Melchizedek—a heathen king—is mentioned two other places in Scripture [Psalm 110 and Hebrews 7]—but today’s Reading underlies the political and religious status of David.)  It justifies Israel’s ancient connection with Jerusalem and the right that the king and the priesthood held over Israel.  The Christian tradition of the bread and wine are seen here to prefigure the Holy Eucharist.

~~~

The striking point in our Second Reading—the earliest account of the institution of the Holy Eucharist (1 Corinthians 11:23-26,)–is that Paul does not think of the Holy Eucharist and Christ’s presence within it in a “static way.”  In dynamic terms, he shows it to have lasting and definitive consequences for the life of the people who are included in the “New and Everlasting Covenant,”—(words of the Consecration of the wine, at Holy Mass.)  Two other phrases, “in Memory of Me,” and, “until He comes,” recall the Jewish Passover prayer, (that God may remember the Messiah, and that His kingdom may come—from the Lord’s prayer.) This “memorial” links the Holy Eucharist with the past, and also looks forward to the fulfillment of God’s Kingdom.

~~~

In today’s Gospel selection (Luke 9:11-17,) the Eucharistic significance of the multiplication of the loaves is brought out, cleverly and economically, by the use of familiar liturgical language—“Jesus took; blessed; broke; gave.”  This was a meal of the Messiah “with His own,” wherein He was acting as host, at an extraordinary meal.  In so doing, Jesus showed us that He would preside over the Messianic Banquet and bring salvation to His people.  This can be appreciated in remembering when Yahweh providing manna for the people in the desert and Elisha similarly distributed bread to his followers (Exodus 16; and 2 Kings 4.)  Just as Jesus fed the crowd and healed them, in the Holy Eucharist, the Church continues the missions of Jesus to teach, to heal and to nourish the people of God.

The Nourishment Jesus Gives Us

Jesus saw the multitude gathered to hear Him with compassion—as if they were “sheep” without a shepherd.  Drawn to Him by the magnetism of His words and the warmth of His personality, they heard Him teach them about the Kingdom of Heaven; and saw Him heal the sick.  

Finishing in the late afternoon, when everyone was tired and hungry, the apostles urged Him to send them away.  Instead, He worked a great miracle to feed them.  One can imagine how happy they were when they returned to their homes!  

“Breaking bread,” was, and continues to be, the common phrase used to signify a communal meal.  From ancient times, this has signified a gathering of intimates, where food and fellowship are shared.  It’s no mystery why Jesus utilized this custom to encapsulate the custom of the Holy Eucharist, which we encounter at the celebration of every Holy Mass.  

As the new People of God, we find Jesus in our midst, sharing His words through Scripture—living words that console, inspire and challenge us.  We also experience healing of wounds, our divisions among people and healing of our isolation from one another.  We are also healed of our selfishness and indifference to others, and formed into a community of love. 

Finally, we are nourished by the food of the Holy Eucharist—“Unless you eat My flesh and drink My blood, you shall not have life in you” (John 6:53.)  At the end of Mass, we are not simply dismissed, but sent forth as bearers of life to others.  

As they proclaim the paschal mystery of Jesus, the pilgrim People of God advance towards the heavenly banquet, when all the “elect*” will be seated at the table of the Kingdom.  

“In Memory of Me”

At one time or another, most of us have felt we have been “left behind,” “ignored,” or “passed over.”  It can be very painful to not be recognized for our contributions, and be treated as if we don’t really matter.  

But something worse can happen to us:  we could be forgotten.  This is to be treated not just as if we were of “little account,” but of “no account at all”—as if we didn’t exist….

All of us yearn to be remembered.  It is said that people do not fear death as much as the possibility of being forgotten.  

Jesus also wanted to be remembered.  As He sat at table with His friends, on that Holy Thursday evening, He utilized the ancient ritual of “breaking bread,” which became the first Holy Eucharist celebration.  Every time we celebrate the Holy Mass, we recall some of the wonderful things He said and did.  Reflecting upon them, we try to apply them to our lives.  When we remember Jesus in this way, He becomes “present” for us—not simply as a “reenactment,” but as a true “memorial.”  We believe in the “real presence” of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.  This is what sets us apart from all other Christians, who only “ceremoniously” remember the event.  For us, the Eucharist is the actual body and the actual blood of Jesus Christ, made present for us in the sacred words of consecration.  This is the miracle of transubstantiation—wherein the “physical elements” (bread, wine,) appear the same, but the “substance” becomes Christ’s actual body and blood.

In Holy Communion, a physical and spiritual bond is forged between our Savior and us, with the result that we are able to enter into a deeper intimacy with Him, than would be the case if He were merely physically present as another human being in our midst.  This is not simply communication, but a true communion with Him.

Memory is a precious faculty, so much so, that when people’s memories fade, as in those afflicted with Alzheimer’s Disease, we can empathize with the devastation that brings.   Memory connects people and events that are no longer present.  When they are brought to mind, they are not just ephemeral, but become truly present; something we feel, rather than see.  When we remember people who have died, in this way, we reap a harvest from what they sowed while they were among us.  How much more fruitful it is to remember Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, in the way He asked to be remembered!  

A Parting Thought

Paul’s account of the institution of the Holy Eucharist begins “On the night He was betrayed….”  It’s interesting to reflect on how Jesus treated Judas’ betrayal.  He had been with the apostles throughout Jesus’ ministry, sharing their fellowship and their trust.  

When He betrayed Jesus, one can only imagine how very painful it was for our Savior.  However, unlike most people, He didn’t “hit back” at Judas, or expose him in front of the others.  In giving Him a morsel of the bread (His Body,) a gesture of His friendship, He let him know that He was aware of what He had been planning.  In refusing to point the finger at him, He left the door open for Judas to return to the “fold.”  

Judas’ actions hurt the other apostles, too.  In betraying Jesus, he betrayed his friends, as well.  Nonetheless, we don’t remember that night for Judas’ betrayal.  We remember it for the gift that Jesus left us in spite of the betrayal.  Conscientiously received, the Holy Eucharist will help us recover from any betrayals we have suffered at the hands of others, also. …Moreover, it should help us avoid betraying anyone else….

May God Richly Bless You!

"Proclaiming the death, according to the flesh of the only-begotten Son of God, that is, Jesus Christ; Confessing His resurrection from the dead and ascension into heaven, we offer the unbloody sacrifice in the churches.  We are sanctified; having received His holy flesh and the precious Blood of Christ, the Savior of us all."

~~Council of Ephesus, ca. 431 A.D.~~

 

Come, Share this Feast of Love.docx

To view a recording of today's Holy Mass, click here: https://youtu.be/P08yat3no70

 

*The ”elect”—those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, and have followed His commandments.

 

Edited by Father Michael
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