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August 12, 2018

This Sunday marks the third of five Sundays in which the Gospel of John is proclaimed in Church. It is a particular section of John’s gospel, chapter 6 to be specific, and it focuses on the Johannine teaching on the Eucharist.

This teaching begins with the miracle of the Feeding of the 5000 (Jn 5:6:1-15) which was narrated for us on the last Sunday of July. That particular passage of the gospel related to us the pure abundance of God’s food for our lives, of God’s faithfulness in providing for our needs, physical and spiritual. It was a gospel that made a direct connection between the abundance of the Heavenly Banquet and the Eucharist as we celebrate it in the context of our worship of God. It also reminded us that God’s care and gift of self for us, especially as it is made incarnate in the person of Jesus, is a reminder to us of the very real connection between our participation in Eucharist and our expressions of care and selflessness in and for the world. To participate in communion, to take Jesus - Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity - into our lives is to take upon ourselves his example of self-gift for the world.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church echoes this idea when it reminds us that our participation in the Eucharist signifies that “all who eat the one broken bread, Christ, enter into communion with him and form but one body in him.” (CCC 1329) St. Augustine taught that all who participate in the Eucharist must become Christ for the world.  It all goes to show that what we do in Church on Sunday and how we live our lives between our celebrations of the Eucharist are irrevocably connected. Later in the gospel, John’s narration of the Last Supper focuses not on the sharing of the bread and wine, but on the washing of the feet, once again underscoring the intimate connection between Eucharist and the way we live our lives, specifically how we live lives of Christ-centered service for others.

For ourselves, this gospel-centered theme of service for others is something that many people incorporate into their lives. There are organizations and ministry within the church in which many people get involved. Here at Lourdes, there is an abundance of opportunity to be of service within the parish community. Participating in ministry, whether liturgical or outreach, whether sharing faith with others or simply accompanying others through their life’s journey, all of this is a wonderful expression of service for others beyond the self. There are also many and varied opportunities for service in the broader community. Volunteering for city beautification, getting involved in Neighborhood Watch groups, participating in Kiwanis or Rotary, in United Way or Scouts, these organizations and opportunities also provide us with many different opportunities to make our mark on the world for the better. When we ground our service in the conviction the importance of Christ-centered service that is rooted in the gospel, then we are putting skin and bone, flesh and blood on Eucharist.

If we were to put it bluntly and without too much fuss, we could do worse than simply say we do for others because God does for us. Our service of others is our way of expressing gratitude or thanksgiving (eucharist) for God’s care of ourselves.

In the coming weeks, this theme of service born of gratitude will be honed even more by the author of the fourth gospel. Jesus will be seen to advocate strongly for joining very strong lines between what we believe and what we do in life, or how we choose to live. They can’t be disconnected. Jesus is also aware that many people will walk away because of the demands of a gospel-centered life. This confronts all of us in how we make the choices we make for ourselves. Jesus himself is the Bread of Life for the world given by the Father for all of us. Whether we choose to live into this great truth is our choice for life in and for one another, which in turn is our choice for life in and for God. As does Simon Peter put it, “Master to whom shall we go?”, so must we all consider in whom or in what we place our life.

 

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