We celebrate today the feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus. The song, ‘Go Out, Go Now’ from ‘Making Music to Your Name’ attempts to capture something of our response after listening to God’s Word and sharing in the Eucharist together.
What we have witnessed is self-giving love A self-giving love that endures to the end We’ve been invited to taste God and live Die to self and rise into life’.
I remember reading about a man who had recovered consciousness after 19 years of being in a coma. His wife had faithfully sponged him down and regularly turned him to keep him comfortable all that time. What struck me was her love, her constant dedication and the deep respect she maintained for his life and his body despite his lack of consciousness. I am sure there would have been times she felt like giving up. Her love for her husband was undivided and her life was poured out in loving service.
The feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus invites us to that way of life.
In our Gospel today taken from Luke 9:11-17, Jesus first made the crowds welcome, he talked to them about the kingdom and he cured those in need of healing. We begin Mass that way, we are welcomed in Christ and we call on God’s healing and mercy in our lives. All of us are welcome no matter our situation. We come with our lives as they are. There is no pretence when it comes to God. He knows us intimately. Christ does welcome us even if we can’t bring ourselves to welcome the problem areas of our lives and he welcomes those we struggle to welcome or who we may think don’t deserve to be welcomed.
It is the Twelve that come to Jesus to ask him to send the people away to go and get something to eat because of the isolation and loneliness of the place they were in. I wonder, did they feel inadequate? Not able to cope with the situation? How often have we felt like that in the experiences of our lives? Those desert moments, those lonely moments, those isolated moments. What can I do? I am not competent enough. Let someone else do it. Let someone else take charge.
Jesus cuts across all those excuses and says to the Twelve, ‘Give them something to eat yourselves’. Now that’s telling them. His life and example with them must have stood for something. I certainly feel inadequate at times but when I think about it in my own case, there is the gift of my faith, my unique experiences in life and in prayer, the wisdom and confidence gained through them, the spiritual petrol station of Christ’s life giving Word, his flesh to eat and his blood to drink each time I gather with others to celebrate the Eucharist. All of that must stand for something. Christ invites us to believe in ourselves and the contribution we can make. Our baptism gives us that authority.
Despite our inadequacies and our lack of resources, with Christ we can make a difference. The words we hear in the Eucharistic Prayer at Mass, he took the bread, blessed it, broke it and handed it to his disciples are the same words and actions we heard in the Gospel story. Christ takes us, blesses us, breaks us open and then challenges us to give of his life and love as his body and as his blood poured out in loving service. We simply go where he has gone before us.
We are fed with his body and blood and experience the intimacy of that communion with him which is such a comforting and treasured moment and then he sends us out transformed into his body and blood to enable others to have their hunger satisfied, their hunger for justice, for peace, for recognition, for friendship, for meaning, for love. And there is more than enough to go around, more than enough to satisfy we are told because ‘They all ate as much as they wanted’.
It is up to you and me in our places and circumstances knowing Christ is with us. We are invited to go out and to go now. Every blessing.