1st Reading - Genesis 14:18-20
2nd Reading - 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Gospel - Luke 9:11b-17
When do you experience a sense of awe and wonder? .................
What emotion does this bring up in you? ............ (Gratitude and praise to God)
Would you say that this also is an experience of the Divine? .................
[Note: On Sunday, we didn't get past this section. People had so many experiences they wanted to share.]
What other experiences have led people to a sense of awe and wonder? (i.e. night sky, cathedrals of Europe, works of art and music, crowds of youth gathered in praise of God, in service to those who are poor, etc.)
Where has their gratitude led them?
[We started again here] What about the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, here with us - Christ who is both human and divine! We come here or somewhere time after time because we believe in this special living presence of Christ.
Why is this so important? Why is everything we do here so important - from the opening song, the readings and reflection on those readings, the ritual of the words and actions we use, the music? ………… (Because we need to experience a closeness to the divine - Why? so that we, weak, forgetful humans continue to have the Spirit of Christ, the courage, the faith and eagerness, the love to go out from here to be Christ in our world.)
Every year we celebrate the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ to renew our enthusiasm for this awesome gift from God. Every year on this day we read something about who Christ is for us. This year we read about the ruler-priest Melchizedek who brought special bread and wine to Abram, blessed him in the name of God as a thanksgiving to God for Abram's being saved from his enemies. In return Abram gave a tithe to the priest as a his sign of thanksgiving.
Paul's account in 1 Corinthians of the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper uses the ritual formula he received from the faith community, the usual way a religious heritage is transmitted in most cultures. Paul is showing that he has the authority to hand down the tradition, and that the Risen Christ is transmitting the tradition through the members of his Body, the Church.
In that tradition, at the Last Supper Jesus showed the lines of continuity between the old and new covenants and making a clear distinction. He focused on the bread and wine. Faithful to Jewish etiquette, as either the head of the household or the host, he gave thanks and broke the bread. Then he began a new covenant, a new bond between himself and his followers. He identifies the bread as his body about to be given vicariously on behalf of those present.
Again faithful to Jewish tradition, when the supper was over, Jesus took the cup and pronounced words over it as well. He identified the cup with the new covenant and with his blood, which like sacrificial blood, ratified the covenant. Jesus took the idea of a new covenant from a theme from Jeremiah (Jer. 31:31-34) and the blood ratification from the Jewish sacrificial system, incorporated them and reinterpreted them. He showed that he is the offering himself. He is giving himself for all who would come after him. Then Jesus charged his followers to repeat this memorial as a participation in his death and a sharing in the benefits that would come from it.
Now Christ continually gives what the dying Jesus gave once for all. The past, present and future are merged as one: his death and resurrection, the ritual of remembrance enacted by communities of believers, and the future of his coming again. Talking about awe and wonder - how can we even say these words without being in awe at the awesome privilege, joy and responsibility that is ours? To show our gratitude to God we are called to be the living presence of Christ following the example of the first women and men disciples.
Christ, where are you leading us? The gospel gives us a clue. See a need, ask Christ what to do about it, and then follow his instructions in a response of love.
Let's go to the altar together and do what Jesus instructed us to do, asking for the courage to listen and follow the leading of his Spirit.
Maria Thornton McClain, RCWP
June 2, 2013