09 June 2012

A MEAL ENOUGH FOR ALL

Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ
Mk 14:12-16, 22-26 (Ex 24:3-8 / Ps 116 / Heb 9:11-15)

There is a classic movie, entitled “The Seventh Seal”, by Ingmar Bergman, that portrays our search for God.  In a medieval world suffering from plague, a knight returns home after fighting many crusades.  He survived a shipwreck, but Death makes known to him the time of his death.  Grief-stricken, he wanders through life, seeking signs of God’s presence for him to come to faith.  But signs of the Divine he sees not.  Finally, Black Death beckons him, but still he cannot find God in the plague-stricken streets of every town and village.
          
Thereupon, the knight chances on a poor family that shares with him a simple meal.  All that the family can afford to serve him are wild strawberries and fresh milk.  They partake of the poor meal together.
          
Yet, for the brokenhearted knight, more than the food and drink shared with him, the couple’s charity and hospitality, as well as the fruit of their love for each other seen in their sleeping child, Mikael, are treasures of immeasurable value.  All through the past years, the despairing knight realizes, he wandered through life, searching for God who seems to be illusive to him, but now he finds Him in this poor family, for he sees in it the presence of a love that has eluded him for so long.  Meanwhile, the father of the family plays a music with his lyre, mocking the plague that engulfs them all. 

Still absorbed in his thoughts, the knight prays:
“This moment in my heart shall be curved.  The silence, the twilight,
the wild strawberries and the fresh milk, your serene face
in the evening light.  Mikael sleeping, Jof with his lyre. 
Between my fragile hands I shall carry this memory
as carefully as if it were a cup filled to the brim with fresh milk. 
And this indeed is the sign I seek.  It is enough for me.”

What can be enough for us?  What will satisfy our hunger?  What shall give rest to our trouble souls?

Today we celebrate the mystery that quenches our every thirst and fills all our hungers.  We have come not to watch something being done before us; rather, we have gathered for something for us to do.  As a consecrated people, we remember Jesus who loved us to His death and, having been raised by the Father, gave us His own Spirit that we might be His sisters and brothers – all children of His Father.  We remember Jesus by sharing the bread that is broken and accepting the cup that is held out to us.  And He nourishes us with His own flesh and blood, thereby making us part of Himself.  When we remember Jesus this way, He does not only become present again in our midst; we also become one with Him and with all those who remember Him this way.  This is our Eucharist.  This is our thanksgiving.  This is the sign we seek.  This is the covenant foreshadowed to us by the first reading today from the book of Exodus.  This is covenant proclaimed to us by the second reading today from the Letter to the Hebrews.  This is good news of the Gospel today.  And, until the kingdom is established in its fullness, when we hope not only to see our dear Lord face to face but also to drink with Him the fruit of the vine, this simple, poor man’s meal is enough for us.

But will this meal be enough for others?  No.  Until this meal, no matter how sacred it is, does not transform us into what we eat and drink – Jesus Himself – this meal will never satisfy the many others who starve for love and mercy.  If this meal gratifies only you and me, leaving the many others hungry for our solidarity and effective care, this meal – even if indeed it were the Lord’s – shall not be enough for the world to see the sign it demands from its Maker.  This meal is not enough for others unless we ourselves give witness to the many others about the unity it effects not only between Jesus and us but also among our selves.  By our faith-filled partaking of this meal week after week we should strengthen one another and, together as a community of the Lord’s disciples, every man and woman in going through this life plagued by suffering and death.  Otherwise, this meal may be enough for us but not for all humankind.

The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ challenges us to be more Christ-like to one another.  It speaks of the dangerous memory of Jesus – dangerous because not one can honestly keep the memory of Jesus alive in his or her heart without himself or herself becoming like Jesus – bread broken for others and blood poured out for the life of the many.  Satisfied by this meal that is enough for us, we are restless until every table has enough food for all to eat, until every child has a home enough to care for it, until every person has enough roof to shelter from the rain and the sun, until every man or woman has enough clothes on his or her back, until everyone is loved enough so as to see the sign of God’s presence in the world that dies of hatred and indifference.  We, who gather today in solemn adoration of the Body and Blood of Christ must be that body and blood for others.  Let us be the sign of God’s presence to all by our love that gives life to others.  We shall rise from this table nourished and satisfied, but not for our sakes.  We are being fed and invigorated for the life of the world.

We shall make this meal enough for all.

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