By Sister Karen M. Cavanagh, C.S.J.
“Where do You want us to go and prepare for You to eat? … The Teacher says, ‘Where is my guest room where I may eat … with my disciples?’” (Mark 12-14).
Today’s feast reminds us, as we prepare for Ordinary Time, that God chooses the ordinary and reshapes it into the extraordinary in Jesus’ life and teachings. If we, today’s disciples, ask that question of our Savior and Teacher, I think His response might sound like this:
“Go to the deserts, cities, villages, shelters, government offices, hospitals and schools. Go to the peoples buried by earthquaked homes, terrorized fear, flooded dreams and starving hope. Bring them – each and every one of them – the promised inheritance, which will last forever. Proclaim it to their frightened hearts. Look at these brothers and sisters, meet them eye to eye, lift them to the table of My merciful, healing, loving, nourishing hope-filled Bread of Life.”
I’m reminded in today’s readings of a comforting, mercy-filled song, “Come To The Table” by Sidewalk Prophets. The song presents us with both ordinary and less than ordinary scenes, foods, ritual offerings and peoples. They are God’s invitation and power in Christ Jesus.
An Invitation For All
All are invited to the table of chosen ones. We hear and “see” sacrifices of covenant making, promises by a people to God and better yet, by a Redeemer to God for each one of us. The lessons are simple but not easy, the message is powerful and gentle, and most insistently, they are for all the times of our lives.
Do we really believe? Do we accept the mystery? If we could – even if we do – would we understand and say “yes” to the new covenant invitation and its challenges in our everyday lives?
Today, we remember the grace of God made flesh – Jesus the Christ – given as gift and food for the journey. The Church remembers with praise, procession and gratitude. However, do we really “get it”? Do we fully realize the impact and response that this bread and wine, this Body and Blood covenant, should have in and on our lives?
We’re the Body of Christ! We’re invited as Jesus’ disciples to His table and guest room, to sit “beside the Savior.” We become what He gave us in simple bread and wine. We become His very Self. We become Christ in the world. We’re commanded to be Jesus to each another and all others.
This is what we celebrate today. This is what we sing Sunday after Sunday as we take into our bodies that bread and wine, the Body and Blood of Christ, our Savior. We say “Amen” to an eternal covenant and promise.
We’re chosen to do with our everyday lives what we see being done in today’s readings and celebration, what we see Jesus do and say and be in all the Gospels. He knows that His Holy Thursday message to “take and eat – take and drink, get on your knees in service of each other” is more than we can absorb at once and/or is more than we can realize for all times.
The gift of Christ’s Body and Blood – the Eucharist – is a prayer of thanksgiving and should be the stance of us who share in it. In these simple gifts of bread and wine, Jesus gives us His all, for all and for all time.
Christ’s gift of Self and presence in the Eucharist feeds us, strengthens us, empowers us to be one, to be a sacred community, to be disciples who empower each other. We do so by including, inviting, welcoming, sharing, reverencing and to the best of our abilities, making sure that each one has all she or he needs.
This has become less and less the creed of our world. The decisions and behaviors of exclusion, punishment, terrorism and violence hold death-dealing power. Children and families are dying of malnutrition and starvation as we hear Jesus ask for His guest room where He may eat with His chosen ones.
The Body of Christ is not whole unless all are included.
Today’s readings challenge us, not only to say an “Amen,” but also to believe and act on our belief that we are the Body of Christ, to offer and break open our greatly blessed lives for each other and for all others.
Accepting the Challenge
If I believe – if I accept – that we are the Body of Christ for the world, then I must accept the challenge to do my all (which is my best) toward its wholeness, acknowledging God’s covenant and command (Yes, command!), not just for a time – for Sunday Mass or solemnities like today – but for all times. This is not just for some of us, for good days, for favorable circumstances or favorable companions on the journey.
Our lives as the disciples of Jesus, as the Body of Christ, are for nurturing service to each other. We are to bring God’s reign of unity and peace to our families, our neighborhoods, our world and to the hearts of all.
Do we believe it? Can we give and get an “Amen!”
Readings for the Solemnity Of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
Exodus 24: 3-8
Psalm 116: 12-13, 15-16, 17-18
Hebrews 9: 11-15
Mark 14: 12-16, 22-26
Sister Karen M. Cavanagh, C.S.J., a trained spiritual director and retreat facilitator, is a pastoral associate/family minister at St. Nicholas of Tolentine parish, Jamaica.