Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sunday word, 22 Jun 14

More Vital Participation 
Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ A (22 Jun 2014)
Dt 8. 2-3,14b-16a; Ps 147; 1Co 10. 16-17; Sequence Lauda Sion; Jn 6. 51-58
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
After Pentecost we give one Sunday to celebrate the Holy Trinity. The next we celebrate the Body and Blood of Christ Jesus. He is the sacrament of our unity. Let me reflect briefly with you on one aspect of our unity: sharing Jesus’ body and blood shapes our sharing in the lives of one another. St. Paul’s culture and ours offer windows to see that.

Yes, St. Paul’s time and culture and ours differ. Yet the way people choose to associate with others today is remarkably similar. Corinth was a large city. It was home to a mix of people largely because it was a port-city. It also was a gateway to the interior of its country. Sounds like Erie of old, doesn’t it? In both Corinth and Erie—then and now—people freely associated with others; often similar interests united them.

Then and now: clubs, ancient and modern; guilds of workers practicing different crafts and using the same materials; people with similar tastes in art, in music; athletes and soldiers; even the poor and sick. Then and now people with similar interests and people with different roles in society crisscrossed each other’s lives. Similar interests and needs caused people of different classes to rub shoulders.

Similar interests help us feel safe if we fear the unknown; if we distrust anything new; or if we only desire to be comfortable. We know that never to explore ensures a dull life; never to trust ensures no reward of deep satisfaction and growth; and to choose only comfort is a springboard to emotional and spiritual flabbiness. To associate only out of similar interests guarantees listless lives.

Good news exists despite all that. The good news St. Paul brought to Corinth then, the good news St. Paul offers us now is this: Jesus offers himself to us so we may lead vital lives and rub shoulders with people who are different. Chief among them are the poor, the infirm and those we keep at the margins of society as well as our hearts. We know that is true because Jesus had a tender friendship with those at the margins. Jesus’ friendship with humans was not shaped or defined by similar interests. Jesus came inviting sinners, then and now; he came setting free those in bondage, then and now.

Jesus’ friendship with humans flowed from his friendship with God. Jesus’ friendship with humans allows us to see, hear, touch God’s heart. Even better news is that Jesus refused to be the only channel of God’s heart and God’s freeing, healing love to the world. Jesus gives himself to nourish us and strengthen us so we may channel God’s freeing, healing love we enjoy to others.

Jesus gives himself: the body and blood of our Messiah Jesus are not shadowy tokens of Jesus. Jesus’ body and blood are his loving self-gift for the life of the world. Jesus’ body and blood are his life and love; they shape us more like him. We become the one who is our life! We breathe an atmosphere that flows not from similar interests or comforts but from Jesus’ very self.

Our Creator and Redeemer’s vitality is his Holy Spirit. By Holy Spirit we participate in Jesus’ friendship with God and friendship with humans. As we partake in Jesus we participate in the lives of all people as Jesus commissions us each day. Participation and fellowship were St. Paul’s friendship language.

Early Christians embodied their culture’s definition: friends are of one mind and heart.1 Jesus calls us his friends.2 Sharing Jesus’ body and blood deepens our friendship with Jesus. As St. Paul also wrote the Corinthians, we have the mind of Christ.3 Sharing his body and blood helps us exercise the mind of Christ in our daily living. In brief, Jesus’ eucharist moves us beyond ourselves to seek the good of others. That is yet another way you and I glorify Jesus.

In your 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Ask our triune God to see yourself, others and the world as God sees. 
  • Ask St. Paul to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with Jesus: praise him for dying and rising for you; share with Jesus your hunger for him, your desire to live from his mind and heart. 
  • Ask Jesus for grace to receive his body and blood with deep joy.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. The sacrament of Jesus’ body and blood transforms our request for our daily bread into power to become the one we receive: Jesus our Creator, our Redeemer, our Friend.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. Acts 4.32. Chapter 4 echoes the Hellenistic common-place of friendship. It was older than Aristotle.
  2. John 15.15.
  3. 1Corinthians 2.16.

Wiki-image of Blessed Sacrament procession PD-Release and by Marie-Lan Nguyen of Doxology CC BY 2.5

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