Monday, August 3, 2015

Going Out to Serve

Francis of Assisi embraces a leper
The Gospel according to John reflects on God’s gift of wonder to us: the Eucharist.

The Word of God alludes to three moments in our salvation history:

the escape of the Hebrews from Ancient Egypt;

Jesus’ passage from this earthly life into eternal life;

and our own going out from this Eucharistic celebration to our fellow human beings in community.

Each of these is an exodus, a departure, a going out.

The 13th century escape or exodus of the Hebrews was the wonder of wonders and a prototype of liberation, of deliverance.  Jews today in the Seder raise their cups to proclaim:  “It is our duty to thank, praise...and adore the God who did all of these miracles for our forebears and for ourselves. He has brought us forth…from darkness to a great light, and from subjection to redemption.”

Every Jewish Seder rekindles an expectation that the Messiah will come. The 13th century exodus is one critical historical moment in our salvation history.

A second critical historical moment is the first century of our Christian era. Jesus says: "I am the bread of life." Paul in his letters meditates on the tradition handed on to him and us.  The lamb the Hebrews ate the night of their deliverance prefigures the Lamb, Jesus, who delivers us from death and nothingness and gifts us with eternal life. The Last Supper began Jesus’ own exodus or passage from this earthly life through the darkness of death into a heavenly reality. And every Eucharist rekindles the expectation of final liberation: the Messiah will come again in glory.  We pray in the Eucharist: “until He comes again.” And in the Our Father we ask “Thy kingdom come.”

A third critical historical moment in salvation history is this Eucharistic celebration.  Jesus washes the feet of the disciples--an example of service.  As I have done, Jesus says, so must you do.  The bread we eat/the cup from which we drink is not simply for me; it is meant to create a more vibrant faith community.   St. Paul wrote: “Because the bread is one, we, though many, are one Body; for we all partake of the one bread.”  The living Christ who nourishes me sacramentally nourishes countless millions upon millions around the globe.

Yes, the Eucharistic celebration challenges us to go out into our community, to become, as best we can, what I would call "transformational agents."

Just as Jesus Christ was a “transformational agent”in salvation history, God calls us to be His fellow co-workers, transformational agents in building up the kingdom of God.

We, as co-workers with God, have to do our best to transform prejudice into fairness; hate into peace, indifference into compassion, sorrow into joy, despair into hope; self-centeredness into other-centeredness, greed into generosity, and loneliness into community.  In our home, in our workplace, in our parish, and in our neighborhood, we try our best to keep on doing all the good we can, for all the people we can, as long as ever we can.

No comments:

Post a Comment