21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 26, 2018
Find out what it means to me
And so begins the song recorded by “Detroiter,” Aretha Franklin, back in 1967, that went on to become the anthem for the civil rights movement in this country. It was also a big part of the “background music” for my college years. Every now and again, over the past half-century, I search out that song, play it, and enjoy the memories it brings back to me. I do have to admit, however, that last week, with the passing of the woman who made that song so popular, it was played so often in the many tributes to The Queen of Soul that I got a little tired of hearing it.
This is the fifth and final Sunday of our work with John 6: The Bread of Life Discourse. As we made our way through what might be thought of as The Lord’s introduction to The Eucharist, the music and the message have been pretty much the same. I am the Living Bread…Eat My Flesh and Drink my Blood…and you will never die.
Hopefully, no one has tired of this life-giving theme. The fact is, Eucharist is the “source and summit” of our faith and the basis for all Christian hope. It really is the focal point of our relationship with Jesus Christ…and should be the Center of every Catholic Christian’s life, if we truly want to remain in Christ.
When we gather around The Table of the Word and The Communion Table, we are certainly doing as Jesus commanded in memory of Him. However, Eucharist is far more than remembering something from the past. Eucharist IS “life in Christ.” True that “we remember,” but we also commit to live Jesus here and now…and to prepare for that future day when Christ will return in glory.
During these past weeks, our First and Second Readings have supported Jesus’s teaching on Eucharist by directing our attentions to varying aspects of this inexhaustible mystery. The common denominator of all three Readings this week seems to be:
In our First Reading, Joshua challenges Israel about the LACK OF RESPECT the people are showing for the inheritance of faith passed onto them by their ancestors. Drifting away from the special relationship to which God called them, they were wandering back to their pagan ways. They were at a crisis point, on the verge of forgetting that they had been chosen by God to live The Covenant..to live as children of God.
St. Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, addresses concerns over another kind of sacred covenant: marriage. Fidelity to this covenant relationship demands mutual respect to the point of putting the other’s interests ahead of our own. When respect between husband and wife falters, the relationship spirals into a crisis.
This is where we find Jesus and the disciples, at the conclusion of The Bread of Life Discourse. They are at a critical point in their relationship. As Jesus unfolds His plan to continue to be present to us through the Eucharist, His followers begin to murmur, grumble, and debate among themselves. They find it impossible to understand just exactly what this New Covenant relationship to which He is inviting them means. They are faced with a very critical choice. But it is simply too much for many of them and they lose respect for The Lord. They walk away.
There are times in our personal faith lives…or in the history of the Church for that matter…when we disciples reach a critical point in our relationship with Christ. Someone or something challenges what we believe…what we value…what we respect. It is then we are forced to make the decision: Do I continue to honor and respect the Covent God has made with us through Eucharist?
Or do I walk away?
It is at this critical point when we ask ourselves…
Find out what it means to me