READINGS: Dt 8:2-3, 14b-16a + Ps147:12-15, 19-20 + 1 Cor 10:16-17 + Jn 6:51-5
We are the Church of Unity “One Bread, one Body.” (1 Cor. 10:17)
SYNOPSIS OF READINGS:
“The cup we share, is it not the blood of Christ?
And the bread we break, is it not his Body?
Just as God fed the Israelites with manna from heaven,
so too do we feed on the best of wheat,
the bread of angels, food for our pilgrim journey.” (Ordo)
Moses instructed his people to remember how their God worked great wonders for them, brought them together, led them through the desert, fed them with bread from heaven, freed them from slavery, and guided them through vast and dangerous lands.
So it is that we who call ourselves a “new Israel” might recall the great wonders God has worked for us. Look at our community: We are from Peru and Nigeria, from the Philippines and Rwanda, from Viet Nam and Canada, and so many different cities throughout these United States. We are in our 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s,70’s,80’s, and 90’s. What brought us together? What has been our journey? What has led us through the desert of our individual lives, deserts that were so often of our own making, the results of our poor choices? How long were we enslaved? … addicted? Who nourished us along the way, gave us direction and “manna” for the journey? Who liberated us? These are all questions concerning our unity … our history, our sustenance, our common faith and, yes, our vocation.
The celebration of diversity sounds throughout the world these days. But what keeps us together as a community? What is the cohesion and unity that gives flesh and blood to our faith? If there is nothing that unifies us, what is the point of diversity? Our solidarity in faith is greater than all our differences. Our body is Jesus Christ. Our self-identity, our source of unity is not Asia or Africa, not South America or North America, not introvert nor extrovert, not liberal or conservative, Democrat , Republican or Socialist. It certainly is not our age. Our age is exactly what God wants it to be. Our source of unity is the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
When we celebrate Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Christ, we celebrate the marriage of God and us. This union first took place in the Trinity’s great act of love for us which we call the Incarnation; it is reenacted in our daily celebration of the Eucharist, whereby God in Christ is made one with our very flesh, the living sign that God is with us and for us now and always.“I am the living bread come down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread shall live forever; the bread that I give is my flesh for the life of the world.” For Christians there can be no life, if their life is not in Christ.
Where Matthew, Mark and Luke have Jesus holding up bread and wine at the Last Supper, John has Jesus holding up a basin and towel. In placing the washing of the feet where the other Evangelists put the words of institution, John is reminding us that loving service to one another is central to the meaning of the Eucharist, that the Eucharist is not a private act of devotion, meant to square our debts with God, but a call to move from worship to loving outreach to others, especially the poor. And there are so many ways that we can be “poor.”
To take the Eucharist seriously, then, is to wash the feet of the Body of Christ, the feet of the Christ we see in others. This is not always easy. We often live in distrust of one another. Sadly, too, we frequently demonize each other, seeing danger where there is only difference. What we fail to realize is that these differences are really only our outer garments, things that in the end are accidental to our real selves… of who we really are.
In his account of the Last Supper, when John is describing Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, (in a carefully worded passage), John uses these words: “Jesus, knowing that the Father had put everything into his hands, and that he had come from God and was returning to God, got up from the table, took off his outer garments and, taking a towel wrapped it around his waist; he then poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel he was wearing.” (Jn 13:2-5)
When John describes Jesus as “taking off his outer garment,” he’s telling us that it doesn’t matter where we’re from, it doesn’t matter how old we are, it doesn’t matter how we vote. These are merely our outer garments. We must not let them define us. So we ask: What is Jesus’ inner garment? It’s the same as ours. As John poetically describes it, Jesus’ inner garment was precisely his knowledge that he had come from God, was going back to God, and that therefore all things were possible for him, including his washing the feet of someone whom he already knew had betrayed him. No revenge. Simply love. ____________________________END___________________________________
SOURCES: John Kavanaugh, SJ, The Word Embodied.
Ronald Rolheiser, OMI, Our Greatest Act of Fidelity – Meditations on the Eucharist.