Jakarta, 30 April 2017
A Christian Pilgrim
SOME NOTES ON THE HOLY EUCHARIST
(A biblical reflection on the Solemnity of CORPUS CHRISTI – Sunday, 29 May 2016)
Gospel Reading: Luke 9:11-17
First Reading: Genesis 14:18-20; Psalms: Psalm 110:1-4, Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
When the crowds learned it, they followed Him; and He welcomed them and spoke to them of the Kingdom of God, and cured those who had need of healing. Now the day began to wear away; and the twelve came and said to Him, “Send the crowd away, to go into the villages and country round about, to lodge and get provisions; for we are here in a lonely place.” But He said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish – unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” For there were about five thousand men. And He said to His disciples, “make them sit down in companies, about fifty each.” And they did so, and made them all sit down. And taking the five loaves and the two fist he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And all ate and were satisfied. And they took up what was left over, twelve baskets of broken pieces. (Luke 9:11-17 RSV)
Corpus Christi Sunday is a day when we celebrate Jesus’ goodness in feeding us through the Holy Eucharist.
Christianity is a belief (a set of beliefs) and not a theory. Granted there is a great deal of intellectual work involved in the Catholic-Christian story. For we understand theology to be faith seeking understanding (fides quaerens intellectum). However, we can never rest with mere intellectual constructions. To do so would reduce Christianity to a head-game. We could be very orthodox (correct beliefs) but still be deficient in orthopraxis (correct action). Christianity is a belief which demands costly grace and the willingness to be a disciple in the most ultimate ways of love. Jesus did not merely preach the Kingdom; He also ushered it in through His birth, death and resurrection. It is not those who say Lord, Lord, but those who do the will of the Father in heaven who are saved (Matthew 7:21)
The above discussion is very important for understanding of the Eucharist. We often hear it said, “I am going to receive the Eucharist.” Or we say, “I am going to church.” Some even say, “I am going to hear Mass.” There is something very passive and inactive about such phrases. For we are called to do more than just “receive” the Eucharist or “go” to church and “hear” Mass. We are to actively receive the Eucharist or “go” to church and “hear” Mass. We are to actively receive the Eucharist. We are to be Church and proclaim as well as hear the celebration of the Mass.
The feast of Corpus Christi, the Body of Christ, is anything but a theory or some inactive dogma. All good dogmas and teaching are worthy of our active allegiance. They help us to know and do the truth. We believe that Jesus is really present in the Eucharist. We believe that the Eucharist is the food for eternal life. We believe that the Eucharist is the food which transforms us and changes our hearts of stone to hearts of flesh centered in Christ. Do we really believe this? Lord, help our disbelief. Help us to become more like the body of Christ we celebrate.
How is this to be done? The words of Jesus in our Gospel reading are a good place to start! “Why do you not give them something to eat yourselves?” To be as well as to receive the Eucharist means involvement and care for others. This care is both spiritual and material. We do not live by bread alone (Matthew 4:4; Deuteronomy 8:3). Neither do we live without bread and the basic material necessities of life. It is not enough to say that we believe in the Eucharist and the real presence. To stop with a verbal affirmation would render the Eucharist a splendid theory. However, when we put the Eucharist into practice it becomes a genuine belief. When we clothe the naked and feed the hungry, make welcome the stranger and provide for homeless we show what we believe (see Matthew 25:31-46). When we share our beliefs about God in a way that is both confident and respectful, we mirror the example of Jesus. He refused to call down thunder on those who disagreed (Luke 9:51-56). He allowed those who found His teachings too hard to leave His company (John 6:66).
In conclusion, we must put into practice what we believe. We should observe the effects or fruits of a given belief in the lives of those who hold the belief. What do others observe in our lives? Are we a people of the Eucharist who believe that Jesus is really present and so really give thanks? Are we living reminders of the real presence of Jesus? Each time we come together to eat the bread, drink the cup and hear the word, do we proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes?
Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, You gave Your Church an admirable sacrament as the abiding memorial of Your passion. Teach us so to worship the sacred mystery your Body and Blood, that its redeeming power may sanctify us always.
Jakarta, 27 May 2016
A Christian Pilgrim
THE EUCHARIST DEMANDS FAITH
(A biblical refection on THE 21ST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME [Year B] – August 23, 2015)
Gospel Reading: John 6:60-69
First Reading: Joshua 24:1-2,15-18; Psalms: Psalm 34:2-3,16-23; Second Reading: Ephesians 5:21-32
Many of His disciples, when they heard it, said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in Himself that His disciples murmured at it, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending where He was before? It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you that do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who those were that did not believe, and who it was that should betray Him. And He said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to Me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
After this many of His disciples drew back and no longer went about with Him. Jesus said to the twelve, “Will you also go away?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that You are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:60-69 RSV)
Jesus knows that the Eucharist demands faith – more and more faith. So He says, “It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you that do not believe” (John 6:63-64).
The saints with their healthy hunger for Christ are much more satisfied and nourished with the Eucharistic Lord than we are. Some of us may even be near the zero point, as Jesus suggests. We really need more faith and are starving for it.
Lost hunters or campers start out by looking for directions or shouting for their friends. But the longer they’re lost and the worse things get, the more they simply hunger for food. So with us: as things get spiritually worse, we’re no longer helped by friends or position or possessions. We’re simply starving for something lasting, a food that’s permanent, the Bread of Life.
We have to allow our faith-hunger to grow. If we have no spiritual appetite, then like a sick person we won’t find Christ very appealing. How can we develop a healthy spiritual appetite? St. Paul answers, “Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24). Briefly speaking: “Put on the new man!” In other words, get your priorities straight: put the important things first.
We know that trust in a friend grows by experiences shared together. We begin to lean on that friend for support and advice and a sharing of problems as well as joys. In time faith and trust are there! That is how our spiritual appetite becomes healthy: by frequent contact with Jesus. The more we share with Him, the stronger the friendship becomes. The more we eat the Bread of Life, the greater the fulfillment of His presence. More friendship and fulfillment bring stronger faith and growing spiritual health.
Short Prayer: Lord Jesus, You are the Holy One who loves, hears, and rescues us. If You ask the same question to us as You did to Peter, then like Peter, we too will answer: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Amen.
Jakarta, 21 August 2015
A Christian Pilgrim
OUR HEAVENLY FATHER HAS GIVEN US HIS SON TO BE BREAD FOR OUR JOURNEY
(A biblical refection on THE 19th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME [YEAR B] – August 9, 2015)
Gospel Reading: John 6:41-51
First Reading: 1 Kings 19:4-8; Psalms: Psalm 34:2-9; Second Reading: Ephesians 4:30-5:2
The Jews then murmured at Him, because He said, “I am the bread which came down from heaven.” They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered them, “Do not murmur among yourselves. No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘and they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except Him who is from God; He has seen the Father. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is My flesh.” (John 6:41-51 RSV)
As Jesus spoke to the people of the heavenly food that the Father would give them, He reminded them of the prophets’ words: “They will all be taught by God” (John 6:45; see Isaiah 54:13). From the beginning, God’s intention was that His children would know Him personally and know their high dignity and value as His beloved children. He wanted to “feed” them with His presence and with the assurance of their place in His heart.
Despite our first parents’ disobedience and our subsequent separation from Him, God’s plan has not been thwarted. All through the Old Testament, God used His servants – prophets, patriarchs, kings, and priests – to teach His people about His love for them. Over and over, He forgave their unfaithfulness. Over and over, He sustained and protected them.
God knows that our journey back to Him is too great for us to accomplish on our own. Temptations are rife in this world, and our own hearts are darkened by sin to the point that we find it hard to do the very things we know we should do. This is why our heavenly Father has given us His Son Jesus to be bread for our journey. Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh (John 1:14), is our Teacher and our Sustenance. Through Him, God has revealed His wonderful promises. Through Christ, He has sent the Holy Spirit as our Counselor and Guide to help us to understand all that Jesus taught and lived.
As the Holy Spirit sustains and feeds us, He calls us to proclaim the BREAD OF LIFE – JESUS – to others. He entrusts us with God’s word and calls us to be His presence on earth. Look for opportunities to be a source of hope and encouragement today. The Holy Spirit is in each and everyone of us. Through the EUCHARIST He feeds us (you and me) with His presence, and all throughout our day He is with us to love us and protect us.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank You for Jesus, the bread of life. Thank You that the Holy Spirit is always with us to bring us closer to Jesus, who is the ultimate source of our strength, hope, and consolation. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Jakarta, 7 August 2015
A Christian Pilgrim