At the outset of our reflection for this Sunday we remind ourselves that we celebrate the gift of Eucharist. It is the feast which brings us face to face with the truth that we have the Lord’s own Body and Blood as food and drink for our journey. It is a celebration which must not be taken lightly. It is a day for us to remember.
OLD TESTAMENT SCRIPTURE [DEUTERONOMY 8: 2 – 3. 14b – 16a] weaves itself around two phrases which stress the word remember. “You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you.” Then, we hear “and you shall remember the Lord your God who brought you out … who fed you in the wilderness.” At once we must add some phrases from TODAY’S PSALM [147 or 146] – “he gives you your fill … he has not dealt thus with other nations.” Then, we remind ourselves that the Eucharist is about REMEMBERING and THANKSGIVING.
In each and every single celebration of Eucharist we come in order to the to remind ourselves of the Lord’s ongoing and giving presence both in good times and bad. This remembering motivates us to render heartfelt thanksgiving. We easily remember the good times. However, most of us are also able to recall the darker days of our struggling journey – when we were in the wilderness. Therein we remember the Lord’s presence and activity. We remember how this empowered us to struggle on and find a sense of peace. We recall how we experienced the worthwhile recovery of our inherent value as a disciple. We remember the way the Lord led us, brought us out, fed us, gave us our fill.
All of this becomes intimately connected (and relevant) to words spoken by Jesus in
TODAY’S GOSPEL [JOHN 6: 51 – 58]. “I am the living bread … unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. ….. I will raise him up … food indeed … drink indeed … abides in me and I in him.” This is another great mystery of our mysterious God as it makes tangible his loving and strengthening presence in our lives and living.
It is indeed
The Mystery of Faith which together we proclaim immediately after the Consecration at each Eucharist we celebrate. There are, as we all know, three of these proclamations. (1) We proclaim your Death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection until you come again; (2) When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim your Death, O Lord, until you come again, and (3) Save us, Saviour of the world, for by your Cross and Resurrection you have set us free.
Immediately we should recognise that the second proclamation contains a reflection of Saint Paul’s words in
TODAY’S SECOND READING [1 CORINTHIANS 10: 16 – 17]. “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not aparticipation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?”
In the previous two paragraphs the words together. we, us, and participation have been underlined. This is to emphasise the importance of the essential community aspect of Eucharist. Each one of us may
well have different remembrances of the wilderness experiences as well as joys and successes. However, these have in some way either weakened or strengthened the worshipping community to which we belong. So, together the same community remembers and give thanks. It is so very important that we do not come to Eucharist as isolated individuals. The entire community MUST be involved. It is something we do TOGETHER.
It is vitally important for us to recognise that no Eucharistic devotion such as Benediction or Adoration (as valuable as these may be) can supercede in value or importance the actual
CELEBRATION of EUCHARIST in the Mass. In fact all Eucharistic devotions depend entirely on the actual celebration of Eucharist – without it the others could not exist. In many ways we need to recapture the celebration of Mass as the primary Eucharistic devotion.
I conclude by repeating some words from a Lenten Lecture I gave during the 2017 Lenten Season.
We must ensure that in the Celebration of Eucharist we know exactly that the one and only thing we seek is a personal experience of our living God. When we break the bread and share the blood – we must do so knowingly, lovingly, skilfully and reverently. It is the living sign and assurance of Jesus Christ’s living presence with us. When we celebrate ignorantly, greedily, clumsily, destructively, it is a desecration. We forget our real need. Our need for a God made tangible for us, truly needy persons.