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SUNDAY SCRIPTURES FOR JUNE 19 | Becoming the visible Body of Christ on the earth

Do we convey to others through our words and actions the same level of commitment and love that Jesus has conveyed to us?

For centuries, we have followed the instructions of Jesus as we come together in worship. To celebrate the Mass in remembrance of Jesus is to do what He did. We use the unleavened bread and the simple cup of wine. We speak the words that He spoke so that His promise might be fulfilled from age to age.

As we listen to the story of feeding the thousands on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, we may notice some of the struggles of doing this in remembrance of Jesus that took place in the past continue today. Jesus drew big crowds late in the day, that the apostles were faced with a dilemma. “Is it our responsibility to feed all those who are drawn to Jesus, or should we send them home and let them take care of themselves?” It’s not clear what their true motivation was that day, but it does seem that at least part of it was their fear that there was not enough to go around for everyone. Only five loaves and two fish certainly doesn’t seem like enough to feed thousands of people. And we clearly see that same motivation in our present age. We calculatee what is possible, only taking into account our own resources and power. We continue to take into account only the things that we can figure out and forget to call on the power and promises of God.

Many people who used to join us for the celebration of the Eucharist are not present in our churches anymore. Could it be that some folks have picked up the message that we’re not sure they are a part of us? Could it be that some people didn’t receive an invitation to find a place within the community as Jesus encouraged His disciples to give welcome to the crowd? Could it be that we seem like an exclusive group, not very welcoming to newcomers or those who come to us from different backgrounds? Is our gathered eucharistic community supposed to be a small, purified and homogeneous group or are we to look more like those 12 that were gathered at the last supper with Jesus? Do we communicate, as Jesus did, that there is room in the community for traitors, betrayers and sinners of all kinds?

To partake at the banquet table of the Lord is a privilege and it carries with it a responsibility. We are called to be as hospitable to others as Jesus has been to us. We are called to make sure that every stranger is welcomed.

On this day and throughout the next several years, we are being called to a local and national renewal of the eucharistic community. It has to begin with more than outside appearances. For real renewal to happen, there must be an internal conversion and transformation in each of us. Do we still consider ourselves sinners in need of God’s mercy? Is there still a sense of gratitude in us for the privilege of being welcomed at the table of the Lord? Does that gratitude and reception of God’s mercy affect how we treat others as we invite them to share the eucharistic table? What must happen in our own minds and hearts so that we become the visible Body of Christ on earth today? Do we convey to others through our words and actions the same level of commitment and love that Jesus has conveyed to us? If we profess to be Christ’s presence in the world, are we able to convince people that we are willing to die for them out of love, whether they be friend, stranger or enemy?

May our presence at the eucharistic table, our prayer spent in adoration, our steps taken in eucharistic procession and our hymns sung in Benediction be signs of the inner conversion and transformation that allow us to love as deeply as Jesus does.

Father Wester is pastor of All Saints Parish in St. Peters.

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