posted on August 19, 2012 16:13
Have you ever noticed when we read the Scriptures it is a little bit different from when you and I pray. We will make the sign of the cross and when we finish making the sign of the cross we say “Amen.” When we say our meal prayers, when we finish we say “Amen.”
But when Jesus speaks he starts right off and it is always twice. “Amen. Amen. I say to you.” Which simply means, “There is no doubt in what I am going to tell you now. You still need to say your 'Amen,' but I have said my 'Amen.' I know I'm the Son of God, I know I am the Bread of Life, I know I am the Cup of Salvation. I have no doubts. But on your journey through life you may have doubts and you may stumble. But I have no choice since I am God and you are made to my image. I will always give you everything you need so that your faith is alive and well.”
How does that happen? We've been talking about the Eucharist now for several weeks. We come to Mass, we receive the body and blood of Jesus. But do we really, consciously reflect what is happening throughout the days of the week. And when we really need faith - usually it's when something happens and we don't know how to deal with it - that's when we turn to prayer. But how does God answer?
You may have noticed in the news recently that there is a young congressman from Illinois who is dealing with depression and has taken a leave of absence from his office. Everybody's wondering, “What's the big deal, what going on?” We like news like that because we can just start talking all we want.
But then someone, another congressman from another part of our country, knew exactly what this congressman was doing and got on a plane and flew to be with him. And he told him, “I suffer from bipolar. I know what you are going through with bipolar. I just want you to know there's hope.”
He didn't reach in his pocket and pull out a rabbit's foot and have an instant cure. He just said, “This is what the bread of life is all about.” This is Eucharist when we step out of our box and we recognize that we can do something for someone.
It's not easy for any of us for anything, but if you have cancer that's kind of an “in” thing today. So many of us have it so you can say, “I have cancer, say a prayer for me.” But to walk up to somebody and say, “I'm really depressed would you help me?” And yet Jesus says, “Don't ever think you do not have within you what someone else might need.”
A couple of weeks ago there was a young man who was in an accident and he's in the hospital in intensive care. When I went in to anoint him - and because of the accident he has a severe concussion, and on top of that to keep him quiet he has medication - so it is like being with someone in a coma.
I anointed him, and I told the family, “This is not something unusual. Some people come in here and they are in comas one, two, three or four weeks. But this is where God is wanting us to have faith. This anointing, and this rubbing on of oil, and this praying - it's not like we're telling God to get out of the way and that we're going to take over. We're just asking that God will enable us to be the Bread of Life and to sustain so that when he comes out of the coma there will be someone to bring that resurrection.”
When I went back a couple of days ago, he had come out of the coma and he just looked up and smiled. And he's talking. It's going to be several months before his whole body is back to normal.
That's how you and I are to take this Eucharist, and don't worry about how we're going to do it - just do it. And that's what keeps the world alive and that's why it's so important for you and I to be here for the celebration of the Eucharist. Without this assembly there will be no Eucharist in our community. I'm not allowed to go back and take ten thousand hosts and sprinkle them with something, and put jars out in front of a church, and say, “If you want a wafer, come get a wafer.”
It takes those of us who believe to come together at the banquet table and to know that in this Eucharist we have life, and we have life in abundance. And that's why Jesus says to us, “Amen, Amen. I say to you. I am the Bread of Life. I know who I am. Do you know who you are? Because within you is that amazing grace and that grace is my gift to you to do wonderful things. And they are not all going to be miraculous. They are all going to be done in the context of my willing it to be done.”
So this morning as we leave church may we just thank God for the gift of one another. We form a community, and the community that we form is life giving. So if you were to go home and read the Sixth Chapter of John you will have gotten the whole story of the past several weeks all coming together, constant repetition, trying to get a hold of us. We just need to think if we were in second grade and we made our first Holy Communion, if we were an adult and made our first Holy Communion later in life - what that really means.
The other day when I brought Betty into the church - just to open her hands - and I said, “The body of Christ.” And she said, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
That's who we are