EX. 24: 3-8, HEBREWS 9: 11-15, MARK: 14:12-16, 22-26
There was to be a baptismal party for the new baby of a soldier and his wife at their home at an Army base. Before the ceremony the port chaplain took the new father aside. “Are you prepared for this solemn event?” he asked. “I guess so,” replied the soldier. “I’ve got two hams, pickles, bread, cake, cookies……” “No, no!” interrupted the chaplain. “I mean spiritually prepared!” “Well, I don’t know,” said the soldier thoughtfully. “Do you think two cases of whiskey will be enough?” Often I have noticed, people are so caught up with external preparation for baptism, Holy Communion, Confirmation, Marriage and fail to make necessary internal spiritual preparation.
We should remember the warning given by St. Paul: “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves.” [1 Cor. 11:27-9]. Hence, let us receive Holy Communion with fervent love and respect — not merely as a matter of routine.
On this solemn feast of Corpus Christi I invite to join me reflecting on how we can build a Eucharistic Community in our parish. It is necessary to be alone sometimes, for the soul requires solitude in order to maintain its individuality. But we couldn’t live like that. We’d go mad. The fact is: we are remarkably dependent on one another. We need other people in our lives – for support, affirmation, encouragement, companionship. They nourish and sustain us in a hundred different ways. And of course we nourish them also.
Today people are schooled in individualism with result that they find community difficult. There is a lot of loneliness in the world today. Many people are crying out for a friend, for a companion, for a sense of belonging.
The word ‘companion’ is a lovely word. It comes from two Latin words: cum which means with, and panis which means bread. So a ‘companion’ literally means someone with whom I share bread. It’s not everyone that you enjoy a meal with. Not everyone that you invite in for a dinner. There has to be a bond. And that bond is deepened by the sharing of food and drink.
When people invite us to their table they offer us more than food. They offer us trust, welcome, and friendship. We feel honored. The talk is as much a part of the fare as the food. Afterwards we feel nourished, not only in body, but also in heart and spirit.
The Eucharist is the meal that we share in the Lord’s memory and at his command, “Do this in memory of me”. By inviting us to partake of the sacred food of the Eucharist, Jesus makes us his companions and friends. And in doing so we ought to become companions and friends to one another. But does this happen in our community?
Nowadays a person could come to Mass in a car, and go away afterwards without making contact with anyone. Can such a person say that he/she has really and truly been to Mass? We’ve met God, but have we met our fellow Christians, our neighbors? The two realities are linked – being in communion with Jesus so that we can be in communion with one another.
A person could be broken and no one would know, no one would care. Building community is not that hard. It just takes ordinary friendliness. The first step is to become acquainted. In our churches sometimes people sit as far apart as possible. Why is this? There seems to be a reluctance to meet each other. And if we don’t meet, we can’t share with one another. What we give to one another here we get back a hundredfold. But if we give nothing we will get nothing.
We need Christ – that’s obvious. But we also need one another. We are a community of believers whose common faith strengthens the faith of each individual. May Jesus in the Eucharist always be the very center and heart of our church, the center and heart of our faith, the center and heart of our parish, and the center and heart of the lives of each of us.