Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Dt 8:2-3, 14b-16a
1 Cor 10:16-17
Jn 6:51-58

Manna from heaven. Over time that phrase has been adopted into our language, used in ordinary speech to describe a gift, an unexpected gift, and perhaps even an undeserved gift. Good fortune falls upon you, things break your way, what you needed to have happen happens, all are at times in popular culture described as manna from heaven. In the first reading today the original manna was indeed just such a fortuitous gift. Wandering and starving in the desert, the children of God are saved by God’s gift of bread, manna from heaven. A life saving gift, a life giving gift, God’s grace poured out upon God’s people. Yet, as Moses reminded the people, life requires more than bread alone, one needs the word of God. More than bread saved them, bread from heaven saved them.
“Jesus said to the Jewish crowds: ‘I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.’”
Manna gave the people of Israel physical sustenance. Food necessary for the survival of the body. A gift from God, a gift that gave life. More than bread is needed to live, however, and that gift comes to us from God as well, the gift of God’s Word. The Word comes to us, bringing the gift of life, the gift of eternal life, if we but partake of the gift that the Word gives us. The Word comes to us as the true bread from heaven. The Word comes to us as food, true food, that gives physical life. The Word comes to us as food, true food, that gives life to our souls. Through the Word we have life, full life, physical life, spiritual life, human life. We are after all both, physical and spiritual, flesh and spirit, body and soul. It is what makes us human, and that human life is sustained by the Word of God, the Word made flesh, the Word given to us as food, feeding our bodies, feeding our souls, our true manna from heaven.

Deacon John
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
May 25, 2008

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Ex 34:4b-6, 8-9
2 Cor 13:11-13
Jn 3:16-18

“God so loved the world…” God indeed so loves the world, with a love that we creatures cannot even begin to comprehend. The love that God has for us is so overwhelmingly vast that our poor minds aren’t able to even begin to wrap around it. It is a love that brings us into existence, a love that sustains us, a love that saves us from ourselves. God’s love is so powerful, so vast, it cannot be contained. At the end of the day God’s love for us is a mystery, a mystery we can never comprehend. The expression of that love to us is made manifest in the Trinity, the love of God expressed as Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. Three divine Persons, yet only One God. How can this be? How can this be, how is it possible that there be one God, yet three persons? Ah, another mystery. We search for ways to grasp this mystery, but anything we can conceive of by definition falls short. The most famous attempt at explanation, I suppose, is the one attributed to St. Patrick, the shamrock, a plant with three leaves, yet only one plant. A nice enough try, but not quite enough. I have heard water used, water in different states, ocean, river, lake, all different, yet all water. Or water as solid ice, liquid or gaseous steam. All different, yet all still water. Nothing can bring us to understanding. Our only recourse is faith. God loves us with a love so vast that we see that love expressed in the Trinity, in a divine community of love, the community of Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier. The love emanating from this Divine Community, calls to us, calls to us with invitation, a call for us to join, to share, to be a part of that Community of total love. This is perhaps the greatest mystery of all. No matter who we are, no matter what we may think we have done to escape God’s vast and glorious love, God still calls us, still wants us, still desires that we be a part of this glorious love. God creates us, saves us, makes us holy, all so we may be a part of God’s love, a member of that Community of Unity, because, “God so loved the world…”

Deacon John
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
May 18, 2008

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Ascension of the Lord

Acts 1:1-11
Eph 1:17-23
Mt 28:16-20

Confused. They had to be confused. The followers of Jesus must have stood there on that mountain, thoroughly and completely perplexed. Jesus gives them their instructions, to go forth and make disciples of all nations and to baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Then he says, “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” Then he leaves! He ascends into the heavens until the clouds remove him from sight. They must have wondered, as they stared into the sky, how can he be with them always, he just left! I’m just not sure if they got what Jesus meant when he told them the Holy Spirit would come to them. I’m not sure they understood that the Spirit would enable them to be Christ’s witnesses to the world. I’m not sure they realized that Christ would indeed be with them, through the Spirit sent to guide them, to give them understanding, and strength. They did as Jesus asked and returned to Jerusalem to wait. I’m just not sure they got it. I’m sure they much would have preferred that Jesus not leave at all. They simply didn’t understand. I’m not sure we understand either, and we really don’t have any excuses. For the first followers of Jesus, at least this was all new. It is not for us. We know what we are called to do. We know that we are to be Christ’s witnesses in the world. We know that we are called to love, everyone, the lovable and the unlovable alike. We have the Spirit those early followers were waiting for, yet we hide, as they did, as though we have no help available to us to follow our call. Perhaps we are frightened, or too much concerned with what the world will think of us. The world beckons, calling us to return evil for evil, not good for evil as we are called to do. We are indeed called to be counter-cultural, to go against the popular wisdom, to instead listen to the call of Christ. Following Christ is a way of life, a way of being. It is not a popularity contest. Yet when we struggle to really live our faith, we find that we may attract more people than we think. One of the most popular, and well-loved people of our time is Mother Teresa, a person who was certainly not in line with modern culture. Yet people are fascinated by her. For some it is mere curiosity, but for others it is a demonstration that life can be different. Can we all be Mother Teresa? Perhaps not. But we can all listen to the one who called her, for we all have that same Spirit that guided her. It’s time to get ready and leave the room.

Deacon John
The Ascension of the Lord
May 4, 2008