Michael M. Burke, O. P., D. Min.
The Body and Blood of Christ
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MOST HOLY BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST

 

CI: When we bring out bread and wine to have a meal, we are called to share it in thanksgiving, love and honesty.

 

Intro:  Today we focus on our Eucharistic Meal which is at the center of our lives, for many of us our daily spiritual food.

 

In the Book of Genesis we read that Abram returns from a decisive battle against great odds.  He is given a hero’s welcome by Melchizedek, king of Salem.  These two powerful figures gather around bread and wine and give thanks to God. 

 

Our own Eucharist each time is a gathering after we have returned from living a life of challenge, facing enemies within and without, struggling each day to proclaim a message of love and forgiveness.  We return to give thanks.  When we gather as a liturgical community we give thanks around a table using the same simple elements used so long ago by Melchizedek.  This ancient rite of Abram and Melchizedek prefigures the Eucharistic meal Jesus gave us as a memorial of him.  We honor Jesus as victor who conquered sin and death and who feeds us by giving himself into our hands in the form of bread and wine.

 

Jesus gathered his disciples around a table sharing the simple gifts of bread and wine and while he did it he shared himself, his fears, his love, his dreams for them and the kingdom and most of all everything the Father had revealed to him.  He said, ‘This, this simple bread and cup of wine, this is myself, my body that is for you, given for you.  Do this, share yourselves like this with each other, share your hearts, your truth, your hopes and dreams and struggles as I share with you and ‘Do THIS kind of sharing in memory of me.’  Jesus says, ‘This is my body, meaning ‘this’ is me, myself, totally gift to you, no secrets, everything he has heard from the Father he gives to us and himself too poured out in love.  

 

There is a film out now called ‘City Island.’  It says a lot about how we should share at the table, this table and every table where we gather for a meal.  City Island is a story about a family who all keep secrets about themselves from each other.  Andy Garcia is the father who works in a prison as a ‘corrections officer,’ but who really aspires to be an actor.  He keeps this a secret from his wife who thinks he is playing poker when he goes to an acting class. This secret leads her to think he is being unfaithful to her with another woman.   She hides her smoking from him as he also hides his smoking from her.  Their children have secrets too.  In the beginning of the film they gather in a family meal which is destroyed by vicious arguing because each one is defensive and feeling guilty about the secret they keep from each other.  Instead of becoming more deeply joined in love by the meal they share, everyone leaves the table in anger and isolation. 

 

As part of the acting class that the father is taking, each person is asked to meet with another person and reveal their deepest secret about something they are either embarrassed or ashamed to tell and have kept a secret.  This begins the healing process for him as he gradually builds enough trust to share his secret with his partner in the class.  Each of us needs at least one trusted friend with whom we can share any secret about ourselves that keeps us from being honest and real.

 

What has this to do with Eucharist?  It has everything to do with Eucharist because

Eucharist  is a meal with Jesus who reveals everything about himself and the Father with us.  The very essence of the meal is gift of his total self to us in honesty, love and thanksgiving.  We in return must respond in honesty about ourselves, love of our neighbor and thanksgiving for what he has done for us.

 

In the film only when everyone reveals their secret are they ready to gather around the table bringing the simple gifts of bread and wine and then they share in love, honesty and thanksgiving.

 

His disciples like the actors in the film are not yet in total honesty or love because they won’t let themselves stretch to see how they can feed the hungry crowds.  Their excuse is there isn’t enough food to go around, ‘Five loaves and two fish are all we have.’  That’s all Jesus sees, too, but he knows that will be enough because if shared by people who are also sharing their own selves in honesty, love and thanksgiving when they eat they will be satisfied.  The disciples were willing to lie and say there is not enough rather than share what they had and believe that shared in love it would be more than enough.

 

Today is a day to consider our own experience of Eucharist and our own sharing of ourselves with one another, especially our community members and significant persons in our lives. Is our sharing honest?   Are we handing over to one another our real selves?  Are we keeping any secrets that prevent us from being honest with one another?  In recovery or twelve step programs they say ‘a person is as sick as their secrets.’

For us to present ourselves at Eucharist we must come in honesty, integrity and love.

We should be growing in this so that our celebration of Eucharist is deepening with our honesty. 

 

No wonder people drop out of the celebration of the Eucharist because they are not making the connection in their lives with what Eucharist demands, that every time we bring bread and wine to the table we do it to say this is what we are doing in our lives with each other, we are sharing ourselves in honesty, no secrets to keep us apart.  We come to share in love, honesty and generosity, thanksgiving.  If we are not growing as persons in relationship with one another our Eucharist is not authentic.  People sense this and either stop coming or look for a community that is vibrant with honesty, integrity and love. 

 

To the extent that we have secrets and dishonest relationships the reality and power of the Eucharist is diminished.   What is intended by Jesus is that we find in the Eucharist his own self giving to be such a gift that it not only challenges us to be the same, gift to each other, but he gives us the power and courage to live as he did, sharing ourselves in truth, being transparent in true revelation, which is what reveal means, to ‘take away the veil,’ that hides us. 

 

In the film the couple’s marriage was dying because their secrets were destroying it.  Marriages die today unless couples keep revealing themselves, sharing in honesty, love and thanksgiving.  Every relationship that is significant requires this honesty.  If one definition of sin is the ‘inability to communicate or failure to communicate,’ then deliberately keeping a secret is the sin that we must repent of before we celebrate the Eucharist. 

 

At the end of the film all the secrets are told and then healing love pours over everyone, including those who watch the film.  The story ends with a beautiful scene of the family sharing a meal.

 

What we are doing now is not a film.  We don’t watch someone else have Eucharist, we are part of it, we are the actors and God is the audience.  Today we rejoice that we have come this far in our honesty, love and thanksgiving and pray that the Eucharist we share today will call us to greater honesty, integrity and authenticity in all our relationships, especially marriages, friendships, community, work and in fact every where we interact so that when we come to this table bringing the simple gifts of bread and win we simply bring our real selves.


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