Monday, September 18, 2006

Monday word

25th Monday of the Year B (18 Sep 2006) 1Co 11. 17-26, 33; Ps 40; Lk 7. 1-10
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Shaping Attitudes & Behaviors

I imagine each of us has at one time or another reread personal letters written to us. Letters are occasional correspondence: they contain time-sensitive material. Letters also disclose characteristics and convictions of the writers.

St. Paul wrote the church he began in Corinth in reply to questions it had sent him in a letter. Paul’s coworkers in Corinth--Sosthenes; Chloe with her household; and Timothy--also kept him informed. In fact, Chloe's house informed Paul of the factions and the quarreling/1/ which sundered the church and grieved Paul’s heart.

Rereading his letter recalls his conviction we heard at mass Saturday: The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.

Divisions and the church are not in harmony because Jesus is one and sharing his body and blood makes us participants in him and with him and through him. Participating with Christ Jesus unites us with his real, abiding presence.

His is not a physical presence; in fact, it is more real. Physical presence is limited by time and space, and Jesus is in no way limited. Eating his sacred meal shapes behaviors and attitudes toward others. If we do not allow it to shape them, then we have participated in a ritual meal but not in Christ Jesus.

This is the church’s constant teaching. Nor was it the church’s invention. As we heard, even the God-fearing centurion recognized the power and truth of nonphysical presence: Lord, say by your word and my son will be healed. We memorialize his words before communion to grow in the conviction that Jesus’ presence is not only real: it is most real and shapes lives.

1. For it has been reported to me by Chloe's people that there is quarreling among you, my brethren (1Co 1.11).

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