Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, an Australian community, in a worldwide religious congregation.
Jesus loved with a human heart: with him we proclaim his love to the world.
We work to discover through advocacy, healing and reconciliation, God's presence in our world.
We are to be on earth the heart of God. God has no other heart but ours.
- Published: Thursday, 31 May 2018 17:21
LITURGY NOTES FOR CORPUS CHRISTI 2018
The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ
June 3, 2018
Suggested formula for recognition of indigenous people and their land.
(Any of these can also be recited by all in the congregation)
We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we stand
We pay our respects to them for their care of the land
May we walk gently and respectfully upon the land.
I acknowledge the living culture of the ……..people,
the traditional custodians of the land we stand on,
and pay tribute to the unique role they play in the life of this region.
We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land where we are now gathered,
(the ……) and recognise that it continues to be sacred to them.
We hail them: as guardians of the earth and of all things that grow and breed in the soil; as trustees of the waters – [the seas, the streams and rivers, the ponds and the lakes] - and the rich variety of life in those waters.
We thank them for passing this heritage to every people since the Dreamtime.
We acknowledge the wrongs done to them by newcomers to this land and we seek to be partners with them in righting these wrongs and in living together in peace and harmony.
We acknowledge the …………………….people the first inhabitants of this land.
We honour them for their care of the land
on which we gather today, and with them,
pray for justice and their constitutional recognition.
Only the Truth is Revolutionary
If there is hunger anywhere in the world,
then our celebration of the Eucharist
is incomplete everywhere in the world.
Pedro Arrupe SJ, former Jesuit superior general
None of us have the right to avert our gaze
William Sloan Coffin – 1924-2006
Reading 1 Ex 24:3-8
Responsorial Psalm Ps 116:12-13, 15-16, 17-18
Reading II Heb 9:11-15
Gospel Mk 14:12-16, 22-26
1. Nurturing God, you bring together people of every nation, culture and language. Jesus, have mercy.
2. Nurturing God, you breathe your Spirit into people of every age and gather them as one. Christ, have mercy.
3. Nurturing God, with might hand and outstretched arm, you lead your people along the paths of time. Jesus, have mercy.
Alternative Penitential Rite
- Jesus, in the Eucharist you give yourself for us to share. Jesus, have mercy.
- Jesus, in the Eucharist you invite us to become with you food and drink for the life of the world. Christ, have mercy.
- Jesus, in the Eucharist you give us the strength to live the way you lived for God and others. Jesus, have mercy.
calls us to be your body
for the life of the world.
Nourish us with your word of life,
give us the food and drink you offer,
that we may become more like you
and live not for ourselves
but for you and for the people around us
so that the world may recognise
that you live in us.
Opening Prayer [Alternative]
lives among us
in the sacrament of his body and blood.
May we offer you our willingness
to make present in our world the love shown to us
through lives poured out in service
so that all may experience the peace of God’s reign.
Prayer over the Gifts
our offerings will become for us a sign of solidarity.
May Jesus, your Son, keep us together
in friendship, peace and a common concern
for love and justice among us
and in the world.
Prayer after Communion
as we share Jesus’ life
and receive his body and blood in the Eucharist,
may we work to build that new world
where your peace will be revealed
in people of every race, language and way of life
who gather to share in the one eternal banquet.
Prayers of the Faithful
Introduction: Jesus Christ satisfies our hunger and journeys with us in our deserts. We pray in response: Nurturing God, hear us.
· We pray for our church for our church, hungry for community and shared responsibility, that we may be tolerant of one another and respectful of legitimate diversity, we pray: Nurturing God, hear us.
· We pray for Pope Francis and that his ministry of gathering people in solidarity by reminding them of the mercy and compassion of God will be increasingly established among us and the wider world, we pray: Nurturing God, hear us.
· We pray for our country, which has more than others and abundance of resources, that it may be responsible in the aid it offers to the people of Asia and Oceania so that they may continue along the road of economic development and human dignity, we pray: Nurturing God, hear us.
· We pray for all Christian communities that their sharing in the Eucharist will deepen their responsibility towards people who are homeless, living with disability and sickness, or living in prisons and detention centres, we pray: Nurturing God, hear us.
· We pray for those of us who suffer persecution or hunger for freedom, justice and peace, that we may be strengthened and not lose courage by our solidarity with one another, we pray: Nurturing God, hear us.
· We pray that our hearts be ignited with the fire of God’s love so that we may be awakened by a renewed commitment to work in partnership with all, we pray: Nurturing God, hear us.
· We pray that all the communities within the Church will be more and more a beacon of compassion for the global family, and continue to share in the joys, hopes, griefs and anxieties of people living in poverty, we pray: Nurturing God, hear us.
· We pray that our brothers and sisters around the world who are affected by earthquakes, intense heat, droughts, storms and floods find relief and support so that they may look to the future with hope, we pray: Nurturing God, hear us.
· We pray for the 200 million children of the world who are undernourished and for the 11 million children who will die of hunger this year, we pray: Nurturing God, hear us.
Concluding Prayer: Life-giving God, Jesus shared himself to strengthen us. Help us to share all that we are and all that we have to complete the Eucharist that we share together
Nothing in the world is more dangerous
than a sincere ignorance
and conscientious stupidity.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
We are called to practice Eucharist as a practice of awareness. When Jesus broke and shared the bread with his disciples, he said, ‘Eat this. This is my flesh.’ He knew that if his disciples would eat one piece of bread full of awareness, knowing what they do, they would have real life. In their daily lives, they may have eaten their bread in forgetfulness, so the bread was not bread at all; it was a ghost. In our daily lives, we may see the people around us, but if we lack mindfulness, they are just phantoms, not real people, and we ourselves are also ghosts. Being aware of what we do and who we are we become real persons. When we are real persons, we see real people around us; life is present in all its richness.
Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist monk and peace activist.
One way to define violence is to see it as the act of forgetting or ignoring who we are – brothers and sisters of one another, each one of us a child of God. Violence occurs in those moments when we forget and deny our basic identity as God’s children, when we treat each other as if we were worthless instead of priceless, when we cling to our own selfish desires, possessions and security.
John Dear, Disarming the Heart
Men love their ideas more than their lives. And the more preposterous the idea, the more eager they are to die for it. And to kill for it.
If it's natural to kill, how come men have to go into training to learn how?
When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?
They wrote in the old days that it is sweet and fitting to die for one's country. But in modern war, there is nothing sweet nor fitting in your dying. You will die like a dog for no good reason.
The Place Where We Are Right
From the place where we are right
Flowers will never grow
In the spring.
The place where we are right
Is hard and trampled
Like a yard.
But doubts and loves
Dig up the world
Like a mole, a plow.
And a whisper will be heard in the place
Where the ruined
House once stood.
[I]n such a world of conflict, a world of victims and executioners, it is the job of thinking people, not to be on the side of the executioners.
The pioneers of a warless world are the youth
that refuse military service.
If sunbeams were weapons of war, we would have had solar energy centuries ago.
Sir George Porter, The Observer, 26 August 1973
For a great many years, as a soldier, I had a suspicion that war was a racket; not until I retired to civil life did I fully realize it. Now that I see the international war clouds gathering, as they are today, I must face it and speak out.
Maj-Gen Smedley Butler, USMC . Excerpt from a speech delivered in 1933, War Is A Racket;
I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, ‘Mother, what was war?
I have seen you prostrate yourself and worship your own freedom,
Even as slaves humble themselves before a tyrant and praise him though he slays them.
Ay, in the grove of the temple and in the shadow of the citadel I have seen the freest among you wear their freedom as a yoke and a handcuff.
And my heart bled within me; for you can only be free when even the desire of seeking freedom becomes a harness to you, and when you cease to speak of freedom as a goal and a fulfillment.
Kahlil Gibran The Prophet , On Freedom
In the beginning of a change, the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.
Mark Twain, Notebook, 1935
Such as it is, the press has become the greatest power within the Western World, more powerful than the legislature, the executive and judiciary. One would like to ask: by whom has it been elected, and to whom is it responsible?’
He who allows oppression, shares the crime.
If the innocent honest [Man] must quietly quit all [he] has for Peace sake, to [him] who will lay violent hands upon it, I desire it may be considered what kind of Peace there will be in the World, which consists only in Violence and Rapine; and which is to be maintained only for the benefit of Robbers and Oppressors.
John Locke (1632-1704) English philosopher and political theorist. Second Treatise of Civil Government , #228 (Lasslet Edition, Cambridge University Press, 1960), p. 465
Speak the truth in a thousand places. It is the silence that kills.
St Catherine of Siena
The choice we face is broader than politics, deeper than charity. It is whether we see the world chiefly as property to be controlled, defined by walls and fences that must be built ever higher, ever thicker, ever tougher; or made up chiefly of an open weave of compassion and connection.
Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Director of the Shalom Center, from his essay ‘The Sukkah of Shalom.’
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world.
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.
Yours are the hands with which he blesses all the world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
attributed to St. Teresa of Avila
Anyone who tells you that 'It Can't Happen Here' is whistling past the graveyard of history. There is no 'house rule' that bars tyranny coming to America. History is replete with republics whose people grew complacent and descended into imperial butchery and chaos.
Mike Vanderboegh (1953- ) Alabama Minuteman
Do you wish to honour the Body of Christ?
Do not despise him when he is naked.
Do not honour him here in the church building with silks,
only to neglect him outside,
when he is suffering from cold and nakedness.
For he who said 'This is my Body'
is the same who said 'You saw me, a hungry man, and you did not give me to eat.'
Feed the hungry and then come and decorate the table.
The Temple of your afflicted brother's body is more precious than this Temple (the church).
The Body of Christ becomes for you an altar.
It is more holy than the altar of stone on which you celebrate the holy sacrifice.
You are able to contemplate this altar everywhere, in the street and in the open squares.
St. John Chrysostom
The table fellowship of Christians implies obligations. It is our daily bread that we eat, not my own. We share our bread. Thus we are firmly bound to one another not only in the spirit but in our whole physical being. The one bread that is given to our fellowship links us together in a firm covenant. No one dares go hungry as long as another has bread, and anyone who breaks this fellowship of the physical life also breaks the fellowship of the Spirit.
Because God is
the creator, redeemer, lover of the world,
God’s own honor is at stake in human happiness.
Wherever human beings are violated, diminished,
or have their life drained away,
God’s glory is dimmed and dishonored.
Wherever human beings are quickened to fuller and richer life,
God’s glory is enhanced.
A community of justice and peace (thriving among human beings)
and God’s glory increase in direct and not inverse proportion.
Elizabeth Johnson CSJ, She Who Is, p. 14
What are less than human conditions? The material poverty of those who lack the bare necessities of life, and the moral poverty of those who are crushed under the weight of their own self-love; oppressive political structures resulting from the abuse of ownership or the improper exercise of power, from the exploitation of the worker or unjust transactions. What are truly human conditions? The rise from poverty to the acquisition of life's necessities; the elimination of social ills; broadening the horizons of knowledge; acquiring refinement and culture. From there one can go on to acquire a growing awareness of other people's dignity, a taste for the spirit of poverty, an active interest in the common good, and a desire for peace.
Pope Paul VI, Populorum Progressio, #21
Prayer for Peace
We pray for those leaders of our communities,
our church, our country and our world,
that they may make decisions that are in accord
with God’s commandments that bring life, justice and peace.
For those who have died by actions of violence,
that they may be raised with Christ who died for them
and that they may know the unending life and glory
of the kingdom of peace and light.
For those who have survived violence,
that they will be sheltered in the compassion
of God and our community and that, feeling the compassion of Jesus,
they may find healing and hope.
For those who commit acts of violence against others,
that their hearts may be moved by Christ’s grace,
and that they may be transformed
by the Spirit of love.
For ourselves, that we will work together to end violence
and bring life, peace and security to our world.
Pax Christi UK
People are calling for a voice
Give us, O God of Justice,
churches that will be more courageous then cautious;
that will not merely ‘comfort the afflicted’
but ‘afflict the comfortable’;
that will not only love the world
but also demand justice;
that will not remain silent
when people are calling for a voice;
that will not pass by on the other side
when wounded humanity is waiting to be healed;
that will not only call us to worship
but also send us out to witness;
that will follow Christ even
when the way points to a Cross.
To this end we offer ourselves in the name of him
who loved us and gave himself for us.
© Christian Conference of ASIA [adapted for gender inclusivity]
Creator of the world we share
Generous, loving God we ask you
to give us today our daily bread
Creator of the world we share
Give us today our daily bread
As we store the crops
And fill the barns
Stack the shelves
Pile high the tins
And wander the aisles
Of supermarket choice
Show us how to see the world
Through the eyes of the hungry
Teach us how to share with all
Our daily bread.
© Linda Jones
Living source of all life
God, living source of all life
Creator of the mountain streams and river valleys
Freshwater lakes and vast oceans
We are sorry for the times
We have not cared enough for your creation
When we have wasted what you have given
We remember today with anger and sorrow
The women who walk miles each day for water
The growing deserts where once the land was fertile
We praise you for the glories of your world
For the new trees planted on desolate hillsides
For the child splashing happily under the water pump
Teach us respect for your creation
Teach us not to take more than we need
And to share what we have
For the earth is yours
And all that is in it
© Linda Jones
Charity depends on the vicissitudes of whim and personal wealth; justice depends on commitment instead of circumstance. Faith-based charity provides crumbs from the table; faith-based justice offers a place at the table.
Bill Moyers, Television journalist and social commentator
We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.
Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, former US president
You’re really something, do you know that? And in spite of whatever may happen in your day, you are going to stay that way: trying and giving and living life in the best way you know how. So keep your spirits up, and keep things in perspective. It’s going to be okay.
It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.
Wendell Berry, American Author, Poet and Farmer
When you give of yourself something new comes in to being... the world expands, a bit of goodness is brought forth and a small miracle occurs. You must never underestimate this miracle. Too many good people think they have to become Mother Teresa or Albert Schweitzer, or even Santa Claus, and perform great acts if they are to be givers. They don't see the simple openings of the heart that can be practiced anywhere with almost anyone.
Kent Nerburn, American Author, Sculptor and Editor
Acting upon my principles became incompatible with my role in the military. By putting my weapon down, I chose to reassert myself as a human being.
Camilo Mejia, conscientious objector sentenced to prison for his stance against the Iraq War 21 May 2004
He who fights against monsters should see to it that he does not become a monster in the process. And when you stare persistently into an abyss, the abyss also stares into you.
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900), German philosopher, classical scholar, critic of culture
The global security agenda promoted by the US administration is bankrupt of vision and bereft of principle. Violating rights at home, turning a blind eye to abuses abroad, and using pre-emptive military force where and when it chooses has damaged justice and freedom, and made the world a more dangerous place.
Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International 27 May 2004
I don't believe in charity.
I believe in solidarity.
Charity is so vertical.
It goes from the top to the bottom.
Solidarity is horizontal.
It respects the other person
and learns from the other.
I have a lot to learn
from other people.
Eduardo Galeano, Uruguayan social justice activist
Violence may murder the murderer, but it doesn't murder murder. Violence may murder the liar, but it doesn't murder lies; it doesn't establish truth.... Violence may go to the point of murdering the hater, but it doesn't murder hate. It may increase hate. It is always a descending spiral leading nowhere. This is the ultimate weakness of violence: It multiplies evil and violence in the universe. It doesn't solve any problems.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Whoever hears the message of the crucifixion of Christ in such a way that the cry of the crucified has become inaudible in it, hears not the Gospel but rather a myth.
Johann Baptist Metz
In spirituality, what is inward is to become outward, visible and audible. When we learn to share pain and joy with others everyday life is hallowed because our desires and fears begin to radiate in it. Our lives and experiences are not casual items to be discarded but treasures worthy of being remembered, reflected upon, lamented and named.
Dorothee Soelle in Against the Wind
Just as the [man] who thinks only of this world does everything possible to make life here easier and better, so must we, too, who believe in the eternal Kingdom, risk everything in order to receive a great reward there. Just as those who believe in National Socialism tell themselves that their struggle is for survival, so must we, too, convince ourselves that our struggle is for the eternal Kingdom. But with this difference: we need no rifles or pistols for our battle, but instead, spiritual weapons – and the foremost among these is prayer... Through prayer, we continually implore new grace from God, since without God’s help and grace it would be impossible for us to preserve the Faith and be true to His commandments.
Franz Jägerstätter, 1907-1943 executed by the Nazis.
Love In All Its Forms
Sarah Thebarge Patheos May 21, 2018
On Saturday morning as I was putting on scrubs and clogs and pulling my hair up in a ponytail, preparing for another long shift at the urgent care where I practice medicine part-time, I watched clips of the royal wedding. The ceremony had already taken place, since the U.K. is nine hours ahead of California.
I teared up at Prince Harry and Meghan’s irrepressible smiles and loving glances and palpable joy. The carriage, the tiara, the hand-picked bouquet, the spring sunlight streaming through stain glassed windows. It was all just. so. beautiful. It did my heart good to experience such a stunning expression of love.
But the love Meghan Markle was experiencing on Saturday was quite different from the love I experienced that day.
As Meghan was taking a horse-drawn carriage ride with her new husband, I was walking to work.
As she was drinking champagne, I was asking a barista for ‘a coffee as big as my head’ (I’d worked a 13-hour shift the day before, and I was still really tired.)
As Meghan was changing into a stunning white Stella McCartney evening gown, I was donning a starched white coat.
As she was dancing in satin heels, patients were vomiting on my clogs.
As she was eating lemon elderberry wedding cake, I was administering Amoxicillin and Ibuprofen.
As dignitaries from around the world were watching her elegant wedding, I, meanwhile, was on my hands and knees playing with a 2-year-old on the floor of the exam room, trying to get him to trust me enough to fix the laceration on his face.
As she was kissing her prince, I was holding the hand of an incredibly ill patient, praying for the ambulance to arrive before I had to start doing mouth-to-mouth.
The other clip of the royal wedding I watched while I was getting ready for work that morning was Bishop Michael Curry’s stirring sermon about love. (You can watch the full 13-minute sermon here.)
In his message, Bishop Curry quoted Martin Luther King, Jr. ‘We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love, and when we do that we will make of this old world a new world. For love is the only way.’
Love is the only way.
Love, I realized as I was locking up the clinic on Saturday evening, looks like a lot of things.
Sometimes love is beautiful and soaring and sophisticated.
Sometimes love wears a gown and heels and dances with a prince.
Sometimes love is celebrated with hundreds or thousands or millions of people.
Sometimes love eats lemon elderberry cake and washes it down with champagne.
And sometimes love is hard and messy and menial.
Sometimes love wears clogs and scrubs and scurries back and forth between sick patients.
Sometimes love goes unwitnessed and unseen and unacknowledged. Sometimes love gets blood in its hair and vomit on its shoes.
Sometimes it gives Amoxicillin and Ibuprofen as merciful sacraments for the suffering.
Yes, love looks like a lot of things.
And love, in all its forms, is the only way.
Whether it’s high or low, glamorous or grueling, in plain sight or behind closed doors, it’s love — in all its forms, in all its ways, in each heart and in every corner of the planet we share — it’s love and only love that saves the world.
Imagining a World Where Love is the Way (HT Bishop Curry)
Morgan Guyton Patheos May 19, 2018
In his sermon at the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Episcopal Presiding Bishop Michael Curry invites all of us to ‘imagine a world where love is the way.’ So I thought I would take a minute to do that. I will say that my first instinct sadly is to dismiss it as an overly flimsy concept reserved for a shallow Beatles song, a fake, feel-good, liberal ‘revolution.’
But a world where love is the way is actually a lot harder and more complex than a world where my team wins everything since we claim to be the team on love’s side.
A world where love is the way is a world where empathy is not a zero sum game.
It’s a world in which disagreements are not resolved through the categorically invalidating ad hominem attacks of postmodernity.
It’s a world where nobody gets shot because somebody else was feeling afraid, where nobody gets mocked for crying, and where nobody’s feelings are more or less important than anyone else’s.
It’s a world where the goal is not to make our enemies shut up and disappear but to sit at a table together and see each other fully.
A world where love is the way doesn’t dismiss nuance, nor does it use ‘nuance’ to wave away uncomfortable truths.
It doesn’t oversimplify the parties in one historical conflict as being identical to the parties in any other historical conflict.
It doesn’t tell people that their humanity can be explained away by academic theories or sacred texts.
It doesn’t apply labels to entire populations universally like terrorist or imperialist though it does recognize the existence of systemic realities like white supremacy, patriarchy, and colonialism that cannot be adjudicated individualistically.
It doesn’t see suicide bombs as any more or less tragic than missiles from F-15’s, though it does recognize the reality of power differentials. In a world where love is the way, nobody is dehumanized and nobody is shielded from facing the truth.
A world where love is the way does not have gated communities or walls to shut one group of people out so that another group of people can deny them as neighbors.
It doesn’t marginalize suffering but allows the widest possible community to absorb and shoulder it together. In this kind of world, no one ever says, ‘I am not my brother’s keeper.’ No one tries to write anyone else out of the story.
In a world where love is the way, every story matters and stories that haven’t mattered are prioritized as a result.
There are plenty of ways that I fall short of that kind of world. Creating it would not be nearly as glamorous or emotionally satisfying as getting off on the outrage porn that has saturated everything today. But it’s never too late to engage in the tiny, banal acts of love that are infinitely powerful when they’re all gathered together by the God who is love. In every given moment, we are invited to resist the enemy who makes us all enemies and follow the lead of the savior who is our perfect model of the love that always takes sides and always works to create the best possible world for everyone.
Jacopo Tintoretto, and Italian artist, in 1594 completed a masterpiece named ‘The Last Supper’ which hangs, I think, in St Mary Major’s Basilica in Rome. We are used to the traditional paintings of the Last Supper by other artists where Jesus and the disciples are in sit solemnly. Tintoretto’s piece is full of activity with people busy serving; with servants anxiously looking for a place for themselves; with a cat with its nose in a basket of dishes; and with one servant seemingly raising his hand to stop another speaking presumably to hear what Jesus is saying. It is a busy scene full of distractions and interruptions. It could be like that for many of us who come to the Eucharist: sometimes attentive and sometimes distracted. The artist suggests that our faith will never be perfect or complete; that our love may falter; our best resolutions and commitments wain over the long haul. We can come frazzled or distracted by others or the everyday issues of our lives: crises, the pain of loss, heartache in family life, or the fear of having to face some perceived danger. The painting reminds us that whatever we bring - our moods, anxieties, concerns, sinfulness, distractions, busyness, heartaches and half-heartedness-Jesus still repeats again and again - ‘take’ and eat; ‘take’ and drink. These are what make up the Body of Christ in the world. It is a call to not forget. It is important as we celebrate this feast.
The American academic, Henri Giroux, in his book The Violence of Organised Forgetting speaks of America (he could well include Australia) as a place where historical, political and moral forgetting is both wilfully practiced and celebrated. A kind of amnesia is flowing from an assault on critical and rational thinking. The historical legacies of resistance to racism, militarism, privatisation and individualism are being made invisible, forgotten or punished. We are left with an accommodation and passivity that is undermining social solidarity. It is an organised forgetting. Schools, public radio, sections of the media, human rights activists are under siege in many places when they threaten a market-driven society that sees thinking people, dialogue and civic engagement a threat to its power structures. More and more young people are being denied a significant place in an already weakened social contract where their dreams become nightmares, as they, and people of colour, are caught in a society where their lives are dominated by either market forces and/or the growing police state.
Today’s feast is counterbalance to this. We celebrate God's presence in our lives in the breaking of the Word, the sharing the bread and wine. We receive what we are. The life we receive turns our attention away from self towards others - to a solidarity that Pope Francis reminds us of and calls us to. We are called to become the real presence of Christ and make it flesh by our presence in the world. When the early church met in small home communities they sent a disturbing message to a ‘pagan’ Rome founded on a slave-run economy. Unlike the Romans who knelt before idols and made a the cult of the emperor, the early believers shared life round the Lord’s table, where slaves and masters, men and women, Jews and gentiles sat as equals. It was a feast of the powerless, not the pompous. Jesus anticipated his last supper with many fellowship-meals where the weakest of human beings, the lowliest in human society, the saddest of people, and the worst of sinners were welcome in his comforting, healing and challenging presence. It was in these encounters that God’s reign began to germinate.
The one bread and one cup remind us that we cannot celebrate the Eucharist in isolation from one another - or the cries of the world; that we are called to become the agents of God's justice and mercy in an aching world; and to be a source of healing to renew the face of the earth.
Listening to Jesus and sharing his life is a call to have his concerns about judging others; living simply; giving ourselves for others; championing the outcast; representing the marginalised, the poor and despised. Our participation in the body and blood has more than a symbolic meaning. It is something we are ad something we do. We are of one Body, his Body. ‘This is my Body, this is my Blood!’ It has a material, bodily and tangible dimension. This reality is often lost in our thought and action. On Friday, the Feast of the Sacred Heart, we again celebrate the love of God made flesh (incarnate) and tangible in Jesus.
We come together and do an action. The first reading shows how covenants were made sealed in blood. They were to be a communion of lives – people and God. Through Moses, the people heard God’s message: ‘Everything that God has said, we shall do.’ But their faithfulness waned when they forgot that it had something to do with care for the most vulnerable among them.
At the Last Supper, Jesus does something similar to the ancients ‘This is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all.’ and he passed it around from which everyone drank. It showed how we become one in Jesus… and one with all people of all times of all places. There are no geographical limitations, no temporal limitations.
In saying, ’This is my body’..., ‘this is my blood’, Jesus was saying, ‘this is my life!’ We are meant to repeat this action to effect social change; replacing systems that thingify or commodify people with one based on giving, serving, relating.
If we are to do what Jesus commanded, we need to distinguish between memory and nostalgia. Nostalgia reflects the desire to go back to a former time in one’s life, e.g., the mystery and beauty of the old Mass, rather than the meaning and call to action that Eucharist is. We are called to remember. Memory is about making present. Nostalgia is about the past that takes us back in time. Memory brings the past into the present and to bring to life what might have been buried in the past. Nostalgia merely reminds us of what Jesus did then. Memory reminds us of what he is doing now. To remember his death directly involves us in his life that brought him to that death.
The Last Supper has implications for all people. It involves us all. Jesus consistently gave himself, especially to the needy and least-favoured in society. His sacrifice was not just about his death on the cross but his whole life. It was a self-gift to humanity. His self-gift to us implicates us as we are called to share what we receive with others. As we receive the body and blood of Christ today in the bread and wine, we commit ourselves to Jesus' way of life.
A word we associate with Eucharist is anamnesis, the Greek word for ‘remembering’. Its opposite is amnesia which is about ‘forgetting’. This concerns the temptation to forget the victims of this world – the poor, unemployed, abused or asylum seekers, people living with mental illness or other disability, gay and lesbian people, people of colour or different social status. We forget that our enemies are human. Anamnesis seeks to undo the forgetting or amnesia that occurs in society. The German theologian, Johann Baptist Metz speaks of the ‘dangerous memory’ where Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection disrupts the world’s forgetfulness, or the ‘forgetfulness of the forgotten.’ He declared he was on the side of the invisible, the oppressed and exploited, and proclaiming hereby the coming reign of God as the liberating power of unconditional love, which is the core of our belief: God loved us first. Everything about our faith and theology is a footnote to this belief. Our lives are a response to this love.
Pope Francis repeatedly refers to the idea of solidarity stemming from the recognition of being children of God. This recognition is not without responsibility. We are all required to live in solidarity with each other, caring for each other, both rich and poor. As his disciples we are called to share, to close the gaps that divide people. We are called to be instruments of communion. The spirit of the world does not look kindly on a solidarity that confronts ‘the violence of organised forgetting’ where we forget that the other is flesh of my flesh and made in God’s image.
May our celebration be a true anamnesis, a remembering, a consciousness raising as we move from a culture that focuses on our needs and those closest to us towards a culture that is oriented towards those people that Jesus is pointing to every day. As we pray for forgiveness, may we be forgiving. As we pray for our daily bread, may we be mindful of those (now 1 in 9 of the world’s population) who cannot access that daily bread, as we call on God, we cannot commune with Jesus without becoming more passionate and compassionate towards others and expressed in generosity and caring, as we pray for peace, and offer each other the sign of peace, we cannot effect that if we cannot look at each other, recognise each other as a sister or brother, and be prepared to offer a genuine sign of peace and friendship.
People in all places are yearning for the healing touch and reconciling mercy of God in Christ. Our call is to be Christ’s presence, bringing the reign of God to the world today.