The Eucharist’s Union
Thoughts on the Second Readings by J. Frankenfield
16th Sunday in Ordinary Time
For years I’ve watched children come to the altar for their first communions. Some get so excited that they almost skip down the aisle. In a kind of religious education reality check many have also told me that their enthusiasm is as much or more about finally doing what the grown-ups do than from the joy of sharing Christ, the promise of God’s Kingdom. Walking forward as a full-fledged part of the group and not having to stay in the pew or go with crossed arms for a blessing that publicly marks them as still a little kid is like finally graduating to the grown-up table at Thanksgiving.
Being part of the group – those who share the Spirit of Christ and live out the love of Christ for the world – is essential to the Eucharist. The children have good reason to be excited. With any luck they’ll become more excited as years go by. They’ll learn how large and powerful the community is that Christ has immersed them in.
Our children have the hope of growing to realize that they’re part of a community not bounded by the walls of their parish, their diocese or even the Christian Church. They are part of a people filling the world whose lives are moved and guided by the same Spirit that moved and guided Jesus.
We can teach these children to ask more profound questions of people than what set of dogmas, laws or rituals sustain them. We can learn to respond to the Spirit of love at work in people before we parse the language they use to discuss that Spirit. We can teach our children to live with, learn from, even thrive because of differences. What we can’t afford is to pass on our history of allowing differences-become-divisions to dilute the Spirit’s energy for love and justice in our world.
When we take Christ into our lives at communion, God joins us to every other person who lives by his Spirit regardless of their faith-language. The Eucharist unites people, it doesn’t divide them. We can teach this.