Do What He Asked Us To Do

11-21-2021Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Our scripture readings are thematically related to the theological concept of the life-pact between God and ourselves that is verified by Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. We know from the scriptures that God initiates the covenant and invites us to enter into it and to complete it. We learn that what our "high priest" has begun, we are to continue through celebration and service.

When Jesus told his friends to remember him by breaking bread and drinking wine, he did not mean just to have "good thoughts" about him. In our religious tradition all the way back through the earliest of times in the Old Testament, to remember is a very special action. To remember means to make events or happenings from the past come alive now in this very present.

Whenever we want to truly remember Jesus, we do what he asked us to do. We gather together (at Mass), recall the story of Jesus (the Gospel), and share the friendship meal (Holy Communion). We believe that when we do this, Jesus is with us now, in our gathering, in our presider, in the Word of God we proclaim and hear, and in the broken bread and shared cup. We call this by the name of "Eucharist" or more commonly the "Mass".

That is why whenever the Christian community gathers for Eucharist (Mass), more is going on than what appears. Our faith assures us that what we share is the Body and Blood of Christ himself. We know, however, that the miracle of the Eucharist is much more. At the Eucharistic meal we come to understand that we also share who we are for one another. Sharing the Eucharist, does not, however, "make" us an authentic faith community. We do not become a faith community simply because we come to a church for the Eucharist (Mass). Instead, it requires of us the exchange of mutual service. We become Christian community bit by bit by welcoming others, by reaching out beyond ourselves to stand in solidarity with the poor and outcast, by encouraging the diversity within our catholicity. Community also requires action, not just presence.

Bear in mind that it is at Eucharist (Mass) that we celebrate the loving bonds that grow between and among us. This is why we can say that our Eucharistic celebration is verified by our service and that our service is enriched by our celebration. Through celebration, we gain insight into which we truly are for one another, and then we strive to love this insight. Just as the Body and Blood of Christ are our sustenance, so are we to one another.