Do you get tired of seeing so many advertisements on TV, especially during Sport or during a riveting Movie? I certainly do. The people who organise the ‘breaks’ in these TV programmes seem to know just when is the good time to insert and advertisement……just when someone is about to make a try in Footy, or a vital clue is about to be found in a British Murder Mystery like the Endeavour series or Vera. Have you noticed that many of the advertisements are about Multi vitamin tablets, fizzy drinks to overload us with Vitamin C, or prompts to get some really fatty foods like KFC or McDonalds……Food, glorious Food………We need it, we love it, and we can easily fall into the trap of feasting ourselves silly on it.
Let’s see the kind of food that Jesus talks about today!
In the gospel Jesus, and the Community of John, who put together this version of the Good News, goes to even greater lengths in teaching his listeners the central truth of Eucharist. In persevering with this teaching many of Our Lord’s listeners refused to accept it, and he loses them as followers. Let us now explore what Jesus is talking about.
What we call ‘Holy Communion’ is but a part of what we understand as ‘Eucharist’. In our celebration of Mass we have the Liturgy of the Word, and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. We are nourished by the word of God and by the Bread of life. We bring what gifts we have, what talents or good will we possess, and we offer these to God, embracing it with the deepest expression of praise and thanksgiving. ‘Eucharist’ comes from the Greek word: eucharistia, which means “thanksgiving”. We may think that we may not have much to give to God, but whatever we have is enough. We are reminded of this in the beautiful Hymn written by Deidre Browne:
‘Come as you are, that’s how I want you, come as you are fell quiet at home. Close to my heart, loved and forgiven; come as you are, why stand alone?’ GA 212.
If time permits, it would be a worthwhile prayerful exercise to read today’s gospel once again before we approach the Altar for Holy Communion. By receiving the Eucharist, we are saying ‘Yes’ to the gospel, and we are declaring our acceptance of the offer that Jesus is making, and therefore our response in faith to the Bread of Life is to take seriously that we are a people who are connected together in Christ on our way to the Father, and are therefore we are commissioned not only to live the Good News in daily life, but to be what we have received….namely the Living Body of Christ.
So, everything to do with Eucharist is pure gift. Even the willingness and readiness to accept and believe it is, in itself, a gift. ‘Flesh and blood does not reveal this…but my Father in Heaven ‘says the Lord.’ We should pray frequently asking the Spirit of God to enlighten us, to increase and strengthen our faith, to enkindle within us the fire of divine love, and to stir up within us a zeal and enthusiasm for things of God.
Finally, the teaching and invitation that comes to us through God’s Word today calls us to check out our inner dispositions as we prepare for frequent Holy Communion. Are we thinking about other things, like what will we be doing after Mass? Are we looking from side to side and seeing if we know the people? Or are we engaged in silent prayerful communion, as we move in procession to receive the Bread of life? After receiving Holy Communion at Mass what do we do? Read the Bulletin? Or do we sing the thanksgiving Hymn prayerfully, which has been especially chosen to respond to God’s word? Or do we pray silently?
Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord! Is that just a Liturgical way of saying, ‘Bye, Bye, see you next week!’ No way! Having partaken of the Bread of God’s Word and the Sacrament of the Bread of life, in communion with others, we are sent forth to be who we have received, and to relate to each other as living and vibrant editions of the Good News. Often these virtues are tested in the car park, when confronted with 4 Wheel Drives’……or at the next set of traffic lights, or in the line of customers at the checkout in Woolworths or Coles, especially, when the Register runs out of paper! Are we tested as we wait in the long line at the Post office, and when it is almost our turn, the person in front of us has a very complicated transaction, and they have trouble speaking English……..the Litany goes on. Let us do our best to go gently……in loving and serving the Lord in our sisters and brothers.