April 27, 2008
Sixth Sunday of Easter
Acts 8:5-8, 14-17
1 Peter 3:15-18
Last night I celebrated a First Communion Mass. It was beautiful. The kids were all excited and more than a bit nervous. They had all worked very hard and were prepared yet they were a bit scared. One could say that they were scared because of being in front of a church packed full of adults snapping pictures and gushing over how nice they looked. However, I think their nervousness might be because they truly were in awe of what was about to happen, a miracle not to be missed!
As Christians we look for miracles. We pray daily for the miraculous and we often times pray for big miracles. We pray for an end to illness, poverty, war and the like. Unfortunately we can become disillusioned when we believe that our miracle hasn't been granted. So busy can we become looking for the "big miracle" that we completely miss the miracles that God showers upon us every day. The Eucharist is such a miracle and I think the kids last night understood that. The Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ for us from simple bread and wine, is the source and summit of our faith. This great gift is our hope and strength.
This miracle, this gift which we receive today is about transformation. I always marvel at how blase we can become when it comes to receiving the Body and Blood of Christ. For some, receiving Communion is like going through a drive-up window. Come in late, receive, leave early so we can get to our other activities on time. Or we come forward to receive while our heart is filled with so many other things and we don't even pay attention to what we are doing. Worse, we may receive while we are angry and obsessing on thoughts of payback. Regardless, when we receive while obsessing on other things we miss the miracle.
To receive the Body and Blood of Christ is to be transformed into the One we receive. When we come forward, we are declaring that we believe, we believe that Jesus is present and that this is holy ground. We are to become like the One we receive. To receive the Body and Blood of Christ is to be committed to being transformed into the very likeness of Christ. The Eucharist is a gift. All gifts must be received, opened, and used, otherwise they are nothing. Jesus gives us this gift so that we can accept it, draw strength from it and then go forth in his name to be his disciples.
I pondered last night how do I change because of the Eucharist? Do I choose to be different because of it? Do I receive and then go back to my old ways? How do we as a people become different because of this miracle? Do we get in our cars after receiving the Body and Blood of our Lord and then proceed to curse at the other driver who just cut us off in traffic? Do we plot paybacks after we have said amen to the Body and Blood of our Salvation? How can we be the same old people after we have encountered this miracle?!
We gather together today to witness and receive a miracle. We gather today to become a people renewed by the gift of the Body and Blood of Christ. We come forward to receive the One who is our life! We leave this church building to be like the very One we have received. The gift given given, the gift received, the gift used.
I remember one of the monks at the monastery who use to pray this during the Mass; "This is the Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Broken but never divided. Eaten, yet never Consumed. Happy are those called to this Supper." That is a part of my prayer every time I celebrate Mass. Let us receive this great miracle with the gratitude and reverence deserved and let us become like the One we receive. Amen.