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Get into the ring! How this works...

This is easy! Each week on Thursday I post my homily main focus for preaching this coming Sunday. What I am hoping for is a reaction from people in the pews. Does my "focus" connect with your daily life, faith, and experience? Or not? Either affirm the direction I am going in (by giving me an example from your life) or challenge me, ask for clarification! Questions are the best! Reaction rather than reflection is what I'm looking for here. Don't be afraid, get in the ring. Ole!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Sharing a Meal

-Last Sunday's homily is available by email
-This Sunday's Scriptures can be found at
-I will be celebrating mass this weekend at Sat 4:00, Sun 11am, and 6pm(during the picnic

Sharing, a Meal!

There really is supposed to be a comma in the title of this blog entry. By inserting the comma after "sharing" we can see that the notion of meal defines or conditions or interprets the act of sharing. We are invited and challenged as the disciples of Jesus to recognize that the importance of a meal is not so much the content or "what" is being shared, in this case bread, and much more that "sharing" itself is the mode of our salvation.

In these five Sunday sermons on Saint John's bread of life discourse we at St. Albert are reflecting on various aspects of the holy Eucharist. Last week we began with the "gathering or gathered assembly" and reflected upon the real presence of Jesus in the assembly and members of the Body of Christ. This weeks theme or subject is "table fellowship". As with the real presence of Jesus in the assembly/Body of Christ gathered, the context of the Eucharistic celebration as "table fellowship" is not our customary understanding or our first interpretation.

Most Catholics of a pre--Vatican II formation, are focused on the context of the Eucharistic liturgy as sacrifice: the sacrifice of the mass. Since the second Vatican Council, however, we have been encouraged to recognize the equally valid context of the celebration of the mass as a meal, table fellowship. The connection to Passover and the last supper, both of which are ritual meals, is the source of this expanded understanding. The fact that Jesus's sacrifice on the cross is communicated to the church as bread "blessed, broken and shared"(a meal) is a fuller understanding of what it means to live a self sacrificing life.

So, like the Jews in the Gospel text, Catholics today can be more focused on the bread that we eat-having our fill of the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and fail to recognize that it is the self sacrificing sharing of God's life that the Eucharist makes really present- its a meal. Another word for fellowship is participation, sharing, "agape" -the love of God.

Can we benefit from expanding our understanding of the mass to include table fellowship or the self sacrificing sharing that Jesus communicates to the church in the form of bread and wine? He is the lamb who was slain on the altar of the cross for our salvation and our sins forgiven by the outpouring of his blood. The sacrifice of the mass. However, Jesus chose to make that sacrifice perpetually present to and in the church, his body, by a meal shared in the company of his disciples the Body of Christ - the gathered assembly.

Are we at church, then, with the obligation to witness an unbloodied sacrifice and to receive the miraculous bread from heaven only? Or are we called to be the Church, the Body of Christ present and sharing the self-sacrificing meal of love which is God himself? It has to be both!


JoyFuralle said...

At just 50, I was not catechised with pre-Vatican II NOR Vatican II teaching. Formation was weak (at best) during formative times. But I look & listen & watch & learn & grow & figure I'll get there.

Comments that I have heard from people at our Parish...really!

Why are these people talking? I'm trying to pray.

Oh, I hate it ... why do I have to shake these people's hands? I don't even know them.

Look at all these people talking & making noise after Mass. Don't they know this is the House of God?

NOW, if you would invite people to YOUR home and have a meal or a celebration which of these things WOULDN't you say???

JoyFuralle said...

Further thoughts, correlation from what you have taught ... I am thinking understanding of the Mass will continue to grow & expand, yes? Like FOREVER to the end of time? So get used to change? And God is patient, we ought to be also, I suppose. For example, you said the Altar used to be THE place, now it's the Altar of the Word (ambo) & the Altar of Sacrifice. Pre-Vatican II...was it not understood or just not taught or just not embraced?

Looked up "new" in the NAB Concordance. 53 times for new, that's a lot! From Rev "Behold I make all things new" to Ecc. "Nothing is new under the sun." They would seem to contradict each other but not so.

So the question...this "old" thinking of Old Testament sacrifice that was drilled into so many...and perpetuated to younger people... how can we put NEW wine into OLD wineskins???

Could it be in this day & age we are still clinging more to the Old Testament?

Kathleen said...

I agree that it has to be both, but since a lot of us live a grab-and-go existence, sharing of meals, even Sunday dinner, isn’t as common as it used to be. We aren’t familiar with “table fellowship” so we don’t view the mass from that aspect. My father said his mother gave up cooking for “sit-down” meals back in the 1940’s when all four of her sons and her husband were working different shifts. After that it was every man for himself. As time has progressed, sitting at my desk to eat lunch, either doing work or looking up something on the internet, has become increasingly common—fewer times in the lunchroom, sharing, with co-workers, then I eat dinner alone when I get home late. I think of the American Thanksgiving holiday —we go out of our way to share that meal with others, at least one family member, friend or friendly stranger, and even try to provide the homebound and poor with the opportunity for table fellowship that day. But we don’t often invite others to come with us to mass, and we don’t always respect others who are there at Jesus’ invitation.

Anonymous said...

This is beautiful, Father.

... obligation to then be desire becoming need - agape - to feed on the living bread.

Sharing (in love) unites, builds, relates, solidifies, heals, creates. There would be no sharing, no joining, no meal, no love, without that ultimate sacrifice, we would be separated from Him and each other. The Mass contains/is the whole story. The power of Heaven ~ the explosion ~ Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. HE is present. How merciful our God is as we sit in His presence. How can we not die unto Him?

We gather week after week, we share in thanksgiving this meal and yet, were stagnant in our spiritual growth. How can that be?

How does it apply to me? Lose the me. To say, how does it apply? It's not like this world, it's not of this world, and we're not going to make it fit or make it be a part of this world by applying it to 'me.' He calls us out of this world... this world full of jealously, envy, anger, lust, pride, power, etc. Let that me stuff go, that's not who we are..... see, it's not about me.

a whole new way of thinking, of living, of loving. Oh, what a present, what a gift to find! That pure, 'I would die for you', type love, that love big enough to let us be free in truth and unashamed in human intimacy.

In was pure joy waking in laughter this morning; in fraught search I asked, but how does one describe the Kingdom of God... "well, that's why it's called a treasure!"

A Friend in Christ

(Oh that God would help me to accept enough love to like them as well.)

anon 1 said...

A priest and writer whom I enjoy reading described Eucharist in a similar way to this reflection of the Matador's. He said, "The bread is not simply a sign of his desire to become our food; the cup is not just a sign of his willingness to be our drink. Bread and wine BECOME his body and blood in the giving."

Pondering on the power of what happens "in the giving," helps me to further connect with this homily prep - and challenges me to think about the event of sitting down to a meal with others. There is a "giving of myself" that goes on - it goes on in the conversation, in the "giving over of myself" to the enjoyment of the food, in the "giving up" of my solitude by allowing others at the table to enter more deeply into my awareness of things. So in this type of giving, it really does become a "sharing" because those who are present become a part of me - through the common meal, common conversation, and common presence of ourselves. To an extent, we enter into each other - and as a result the experience of the meal is bettered, heightened. What would be a simple meal of sustenance if experienced by myself, becomes more akin to a feast or celebration - because of the sharing in and with each other.

With the Matador's comments, I see the same type of participation being offered to me/us in the Eucharist. I can either receive the host being offered to nourish myself, or I can participate in the event of the Mass as a shared meal - and become more a part of the Body that surrounds me and invites me in.

Jim said...

I like the message in this homily and agree with a lot of the comments. While thinking about this, I had a thought about the whole meal and sharing, etc.

When we prepare a fine meal, we want to share it. I think most of us would rather share this good meal than eat it alone. And we have to believe that this is what God wants. He has invited us to his banquet and is looking forward to us showing up to share his "bread" with us.

What a waste if we don't partake in his offering and share it with as many others as we can.