Sunday, June 10, 2018 - The Gift of Love That Gives Life

Father Jim Valk's picture

Father Jim Valk

June 6, 2018

A pastor was invited to lunch at the home of a parishioner and the family. The wife worked very hard to put on a good meal for him and the family. As the meal was ending the pastor remarked that he had never had a meal like that in his life. The youngest child responded, “It’s okay Father, neither have we!”

Meals are really special times, special times to bring us together. Do we still have special moments like this? In my family Sunday night was “family” night. We all had to be there. Does your family have this custom? TIME Magazine did a survey of the 3 most influential words that touch our lives: Listen: I love you; I forgive you; Invite me to dinner.

CORPUS CHRISTI, The body and blood of Jesus, was the beginning of a special feast. Jesus invites us to eat together. Do you remember your First Holy Communion? What a special occasion to come together. What did you like best? Is it a special moment to be “fed” by the Lord, a gift of his life and love for us? One little child was asked what story did he like best in the Gospel – “I like the story of the little boy with the loaves and the fish”. How often we take that for granted? Do we understand the power of Christ’s life in us? The disciples wondered, can this be true - his body and blood to give life? Some walked away - too much for them! It was too hard to accept. Rabbi Herschel, a Jewish philosopher when asked what he thought of it all, answered – “Lord, give a sense of WONDER TO UNDERSTAND, TO APPRECIATE THE GIFT”. IN ZORBA THE GREEK we read: We need a touch of “madness” to believe and to accept the gift of God’s love and pass it on.

Christ is always with us. He forms a bond with us that can’t be broken. We are invited to take and eat. In the Old Testament, Elijah, asleep under the broom tree, was awakened by an angel who told him to take and eat, else his journey would be too long for him. Is the journey too long for us? It is the strength of this gift, a gift of Christ’s that gives us new life, hope and support. Will this communion make a difference in our life today? Is there someone who is hungrier than I?

Cain and Abel were walking past a locked Garden of Eden. They looked in and one asked the other why they were outside. Responded the other brother- “Because Mom and Dad ate us out of house and home”. Jesus unlocks the gates of “his” home. (I think Jesus was a party animal but it was not a private party)  - all had a right to be there- but love one another as I have loved you. RSVP. St. Augustine tells us that the measure of our life for others is to love without measure. Jesus gives us the invitation - to have and to share his love. Do we know someone who is hungry? The Apostles tell Jesus to send the people home - we don’t have enough to feed them all. He tells them: “You give them something to eat”. Jesus takes what we have and now it is more than enough. Does our community have enough? Do we share? The little fellow with the loaves and the fishes gave it up and now there was enough for all.

On a tombstone in Louisville, KY there was an inscription - this man loved. What words will be on our tombstone? What legacy do we leave? Celebrate what we receive! Become what we have received! Rembrandt has a painting of Jesus that has the “halo”, not over the head, but rather on the hand, perhaps a symbol of the gift of life given to others, a sign of unity. It is a sign of how we too need to reach out and serve bread to others. When it comes time to receive Jesus, why is it that often there are lots of empty seats? Jesus still continues to invite us, to be fed and to feed others. God believes in us. In the Eucharist we see one another with the eyes, with the heart of God, who continues to nourish us and to nurture the gift of life to others.

In a Grade two class, I was giving an explanation to the kids on all the things and symbols in the Church. Any questions? One boy asked, “What was in the “gold” box on the altar?” I said that was where we kept Jesus - to worship and to go out to the sick. His answer - “Why don’t you let him out?” St. Augustine once wrote - make me a saint...but not just now. Eucharist gives us the power to live life NOW.

Albert Schweitzer: “I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know - the only ones among you who will really be happy are those who sought and found how to serve others”. We will never have a better meal!

Indeed, Eucharist is for today. When we give to one another, we give life, God’s life. For indeed we are the body of Christ, given, received and shared.