This year the Diocesan Priests Retreat, held at Mariannhill from 5-10 October, was given by Fr. Bob Jones SVD and was called an Earthen Vessel retreat.
How many noticed that last week’s reflection was given the simple ‘heading’ of Trinity Sunday? This week we have satisfied our selves with The Body and Blood of Christ! Both were deliberate choices. The ‘official’ titles of these two Sunday are: (1) The Most Holy Trinity, and (2) The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ!
It appears, so often, that we have become immersed in a language of overkill where communication skills are counter productive! It so easy to become ‘lost’ in words and verbiage. Is it really necessary to prefix either celebration with The Most Holy? If nothing else the word most is the comparative of at least three! Are there other divine Trinities or other Bodies and Bloods of Christ? I have the same ‘beef’ about usages which refer to The Holy Sacrament of Baptism or the Holy Mass! Are some baptisms not holy – some Masses?!
The point being made is that we need to be careful to keep maters of faith and religion as simple and uncluttered as possible – too many words run the danger of confusing the essentials. It is interesting to hear what Pope Francis said in his only address to the meetings of cardinal before the conclave when he criticised the Church for being overly “self-referential” and “theologically narcissistic.”
FIRST SCRIPTURE THIS SUNDAY [GENESIS14: 18 – 20] tells us that in the face of the thanksgiving offering (which our Eucharist is) of bread and wine Abram gave of himself and of what was very personal to him. TheEucharist calls and challenges us TO DO THE SAME. We are not called to be present at Mass but, rather, to participate IN THE MASS! I have to be ‘in’ the Mass, not ‘at’ it. This is the way that I contribute to making the Mass ‘holy’ – by giving of myself in such a way that I become, more and more, a WHOLE PERSON. Eventually Abram became AbraHam! The Mass, the Eucharist, the Body of Blood of Christ, must help me to BECOME something special.
If we study the
SECOND SCRIPTURE [1 CORINTHIANS 11: 23 – 26] we should notice that Paul speaks about doing the Eucharist: “do this …. do this …. as often as you eat and drink … you proclaim.” We do not proclaim with unnecessary words but by what WE DO, we slowly, little by little, become something other than what we are at any given moment – and we have never become enough, until the time when “the Lord comes.”
There is another point of which Paul reminds us – the bread is broken, and the wine has to be drunk ….. both are active verbs which call us to action! (and this point will be looked at when we reflect on today’s Gospel extract).
TODAY’S PSALM [ 110 or 109]
reminds us of a very important truth when it proclaims “I have begotten you.” Anything or anyone begotten has a future … a future of growth, development, and purpose, of becoming other than what or who it is at the time. Eucharist provides us with the necessary nourishment to embark on and continue the process of our becoming. It is, as the Psalm says, our “sceptre of power.” We have to hold the sceptre – not sit back and admire it! It is only as ‘holy’ as we make it.
Now, remember, that nowhere in any of the three scriptures or the Psalm are the words holy or most holy mentioned. We come across words, phrases, and events which call the individual and the community to action …. making things happen …. giving of self.
So, we focus on
TODAY’S GOSPEL EXTRACT [LUKE 9: 11b – 17]. In view of what we have been saying it is important for us to accept that whatever ‘little’ we may bring to our celebration of Eucharist it is that reality which we must offer, bring to the Lord. HE DOES SOMETHING TO IT, USES IT, AND GIVES IT INCREASE. It is no good offering anything which is not real or what we do not truly have at that moment in time. “We have no more than five loaves and two fish.”
Then, once again, another
ACTIVE verb – “give them something to eat.” The Eucharist is not something which only concerns me as an individual. Indeed, it nourishes and strengthens me … but for a purpose, a mission. “They took up what was left over.” What would they do with it? What do we do with our basket?
It is vital for us to see that, as in all the Synoptic accounts (John’s version has something different), Jesus gives what he has blessed to the disciples to distribute. “He … gave them to set before the crowd.”
We have to ‘do’ Eucharist … offer what we have … receive it back from him … then set it before others.