The table of plenty

      What is God’s plan?  It is to make us all the one family of his children, in which each of you feels close to Him and feels loved by Him — feels, as in the Gospel parable [of the prodigal son, or rather the merciful father], the warmth of being the family of God.  The Church is not an organization founded by an agreement among a group of persons, but — as we were reminded many times by Pope Benedict XVI — is the work of God: it is born out of the plan of love, which realizes itself progressively in history.  The Church is born  from the desire of God to call all people into communion with Him, to His Friendship, and indeed, as His Children, to partake of His own divine life.  The very word “Church”, from the Greek “ekklesia” which means convocation.

    God calls us, urges us to escape from individualism, [from] the tendency to withdraw into ourselves, and calls us — convokes us — to be a part of His family.

[Pope Francis, Wednesday, May 29, 2013]

Hold on to these words: * not an organization     * born of love    * call all people into communion with Him     * escape from individualism      * tendency to withdraw into ourselves

I recently joined family and friends for two baseball games at Minute Maid Park in Houston.  The ASTROS are having a tough, tough season.  Understandably, crowds are small …. 16,000 and one game & 14, 000 at the other …. in a ballpark that seats 42,000.  Certainly that is better than 8,000 —– but quite a different FEEL from an enthusiastic crowd of 35,000.  My point:  THE GAME WILL GO ON regardless of how many people are there, but the experience is quite different depending on how many are there and how those there “get into” the game.

Many Christian Churches have “special services” with a remembrance of the Lord’s Supper … Communion Services … Catholic Christians celebrate a belief that Mass is an actual participation in the 2,000 year old “last supper” and that the bread and wind become the ACTUAL/REAL body and blood of Jesus.

For much of history, the Church has made note of our belief that no matter how bad the homily might be, no matter how bad the music might be, no matter who was there — those who were there received the body and blood of Jesus — they got [received] communion.  Mass, then, in a sense, was worth attending “just” to receive the body and blood of Christ.  We got communion.

** This fact, this belief remains — and is true **

At the same time, we are SEEING WITH OUR EYES that people seek more, people want more.  People are looking, wanting, desiring to BE IN COMMUNION with God and TO BE IN COMMUNION with those around them.

I have been in baseball crowds of 25,000 – 30,000.  I have been in football crowds of 85,000.  A win makes everyone happy, for sure!  But, the size of the crowd and the enthusiasm of the crowd does make a difference……and the CONNECTION WITH THE CROWD makes a difference.

[1]      This weekend we must reflect on the GIFT GOD GIVES TO US when God gives the gift of self — giving of self for the good of ALL.

[2]    This weekend we must reflect upon the belief that what we receive is not “just” bread and not “merely” wine —- it IS the body and blood of Jesus.

[3]    This weekend we must reflect upon the LIVING action of the Holy Spirit that transforms the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ.

[4]    This weekend we must reflect upon the belief that EUCHARIST is CENTRAL to our worship of God.

[5]    This weekend we must reflect upon our belief that we can pray alone — and we should — but we cannot worship alone …. worship is a communal act.

[6]     This weekend we must reflect upon our belief that through worship we come into COMMUNION WITH GOD and with THOSE AROUND US.

[7]    This weekend we must reflect that we both “get communion”  and are “drawn into communion”.

[8]    This weekend, as we are called TO ADORE the living God before us and among us, we are also called to MARVEL at what happens when the power of God feeds the people of God.

I am sure that when the 5,000+ were fed with the five loaves and two fish [Luke 9:11-17] they did not realize what was happening.  BUT AS WORD SPREAD AND PEOPLE TALKED, they came to KNOW that something special had happened AND COULD HAPPEN when THEY got together IN THE PRESENCE OF JESUS.

SO:  as we drove to worship this weekend, did we sense that GOD WAS CONVOKING US, i.e. calling us to come together?  when we GATHER, do we come feeling that something special COULD HAPPEN when gather?  do we leave worship FEELING AND KNOWING that something powerful DID happen?  Do people leave with enthusiasm that they were with GOD and with a desire [a longing] to come back next week?

Are our celebrations of the LIVING JESUS —– a DEADLY experience?

In the text of his homily prepared for this weekend, Pope Francis focuses on three words:  discipleship, fellowship [communion], and sharing.   All of these are action words to remind us that Eucharist — the body and blood of Jesus — is not a static event, but a flowing event, an energizing event.

We gather —- we eat from ONE TABLE of plenty — we go forth to share THE EXPERIENCE WITH OTHERS.


About thegospelforliving

Retired Catholic Priest - now serving the community as a paralegal and charter school consultant.
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