Tag Archives: Holy Eucharist

A Holy Banquet

EucharistGod’s shows his love for his people by calling them to a banquet. During the Advent season, the Prophet Isaiah offers that promise of God to his people Israel. On Wednesday in Advent’s first week, he speaks of a holy banquet of rich food and drink that God will provide on his holy mountain in Jerusalem for all people. (Isaiah 25,6-10)

In the days after the Epiphany, the evangelists describe a holy banquet in Galilee. There Jesus, whose heart is moved with pity for those who follow him, feeds a vast crowd bread and fish, “And they all ate and were satisfied.” (Mark 6, 34-44) There in “the Galilee of the Gentiles” God’s promise is fulfilled. “All” people eat and are satisfied. We recall that sign of God’s love in our gospel reading today from Mark.

The love of God should fill us with wonder and praise. Yet Mark’s gospel goes on to say that the people who ate the loaves “did not understand” the mystery they had experienced. Still true? Do we understand the mystery of God’s love and the signs we experience here and now? One of these signs is the Holy Eucharist.

The Hand of the Lord Feeds Us

The Gospel of John, written around the year 90, is skillfully constructed  around seven wondrous actions of Jesus, seven “signs” that lead to his passion and resurrection. Our reading last week was about the fourth sign; Jesus multiplies a few loaves and fish to feed a hungry crowd of people near the Sea of Galilee. (John 6, 1-15)

After each sign, Jesus explains its meaning, and the gospels read on Sundays for the remainder of the month– all from the sixth chapter of John’s gospel– are the dialogue Jesus has with the crowd following this miracle.

They’ve followed him and are clamoring for more. He’s the bread come down from heaven, Jesus says, and he reminds them of a previous sign God gave their ancestors in the desert when he sent manna from heaven as they journeyed from Egypt to the Promised Land. They were hungry and God fed them.

He’s the new Moses come down from above to dwell with humanity, Jesus tells them, and he will feed them and lead them on their journey to God’s kingdom. Yet, like their ancestors described in our first reading from the Book of Exodus, this crowd grumbles too. Yes, they experienced a wondrous gift yesterday or so, but that was yesterday. They want daily miracles, something for their stomachs today.

But miracles of that kind don’t happen everyday. Miracles and exceptional signs from God are rare; we spend most of our years living by faith.

Yet, faith also needs something to go on, signs to help us on our way, and so Jesus leaves a reminder of the miracle of the loaves and the fish. He gives the Bread of the Holy Eucharist as a sign that he abides with humanity. We remember him in this sign, we recognize him and we receive him, the “true bread come down from heaven.”

Jesus came to satisfy our hunger, not just our basic hunger for food and drink, but the hungry for life in so many forms. “The hand of the Lord feeds us, he answers all our needs.”

 

 

 

The Holy Eucharist

Easter is a time for sacraments, signs of faith that unite us to the Risen Christ. Besides baptism, many will receive the Eucharist for the first time in our churches this month. Liz’s two children are making their First Communion this weekend and many other children throughout the world will be too.

Here are some words from St. Cyril of Jerusalem on the Eucharist.
“On the night he was betrayed our Lord Jesus Christ took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples and said: “Take, eat: this is my body.” He took the cup, gave thanks and said: “Take, drink: this is my blood.” Since Christ himself has declared the bread to be his body, who can have any further doubt? Since he himself has said quite categorically, This is my blood, who would dare to question it and say that it is not his blood?

Therefore, it is with complete assurance that we receive the bread and wine as the body and blood of Christ. His body is given to us under the symbol of bread, and his blood is given to us under the symbol of wine, in order to make us by receiving them one body and blood with him. Having his body and blood in our members, we become bearers of Christ and sharers, as Saint Peter says, in the divine nature.”

What a clear affirmation of what the Eucharist is! This is our faith. We don’t decide  ourselves what to believe.  The Risen Christ offers it to us through the witness of his apostles, the signs of the sacraments, the celebration of feasts, and the testimony of generations of believers who are his church.

Like Baptism, the Eucharist brings joy to our hearts, the Saint says:
“You have been taught and you are firmly convinced that what looks and tastes like bread and wine is not bread and wine but the body and the blood of Christ. David referred to this long ago when he sang: Bread gives strength to our hearts and makes our face shine with the oil of gladness. Strengthen your heart, then, by receiving this bread as spiritual bread, and bring joy to the face of your soul.”

The sacraments are signs of the Risen Christ who brings our world and us “news of great joy.”
There’s an on-line version of the Church’s office of readings at
http://www.universalis.com/readings.htm